With a voice that soothes and lyrics that inspire, 'Dedicated' might just be Emily Lord’s best recorded work. Like her three previous albums, 'Dedicated' crosses genre boundaries: it has pop-feel, folk roots, and beautifully crafted lyrics where not a word is wasted. Combine Mary Chapin Carpenter’s poetry and calming vocals with Melissa Etheridge’s spine-tingling, upbeat delivery and you’ve got 'Dedicated.' The music touches your soul and feels good when you listen to it.
Anyone who has wrestled with mortality, motherhood, or political skepticism will enjoy this album. Emily’s storytelling draws you closer, disarms you with her direct prose, and calms you with her beautiful sound. You feel as though you are listening to a trusted old friend and find yourself saying time and again “yeah, I know exactly what she is talking about.”
The songs are deeply personal and paint a portrait Emily’s life during the past year. Beginning in January 2009, Emily emerged from a five-year songwriting hiatus since having her two young children. Listeners hear peacefulness and “comfortable-in-her-own skin” freedom on 'Dedicated.'
'Dedicated' is Emily’s third collaboration with veteran record producer Mark Hallman at The Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas (Carole King, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin, Eliza Gilkyson, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams). Like a throwback to her debut album, Emily’s acoustic guitar and lead vocals are paramount. In addition, Hallman performs supporting tracks of understated guitars, crisp percussion, and rootsy Hammond organ. The masterful production balances authenticity with polish.
The four-song collection begins with 'Beautiful Old Friend.' Emily wrote it out of love and concern for her best friend who lost her mother after a long battle with cancer. The song gives permission to mourn. The recording session for 'Dedicated,' which had been scheduled months in advance, coincidentally fell upon the day after the funeral. Emily wrote this song during a 12 hour stretch through the night while traveling to Austin, and recorded it that same day. The emotion was captured, and the result is magic.
'Mother' defines Emily’s present reality. It honors the philosophical commitment she has made to mother her children the best way she knows how, while acknowledging the daily grind and often unglamorous reality it entails. Like anything in life, the right mindset with a long-term perspective makes all the difference. Many songwriters pen soulful music about hard times on the road touring and playing shows. In this song, Emily gives voice to mothers in the trenches who feel pride and a strong sense of purpose for their choice. They deserve an anthem, too.
On January 21, 2009 Emily wrote 'Inauguration Day.' Our peaceful transition of power, particularly in turbulent times, is always an historic occasion. This past inauguration day was certainly all that, and much more. The mood was electric no matter your party or political persuasion. But 'Inauguration Day' probably isn’t the song you’re expecting to hear. Emily does not re-hash everything that has already been said about that day, nor is she an activist songwriter trying to make a political statement. Emily takes off the rose-colored glasses and reminds us that the man is only human. With an upbeat vibe, humor, and razor sharp observation, it captures the spirit of hope we felt on Inauguration Day, tempered by cautious optimism (and a healthy dose of skepticism) about the journey ahead.
Wondering why Emily would complete the collection with a cover of Madonna’s mega-hit, 'Like A Prayer?' The simple truth: it is a great song that was a lot of fun to record. Remaking a Madonna song is a bold move, and implicitly suggests that a new performance might have something worthwhile to offer. In the 20th anniversary year of its original release, Emily presents a bluesy, sultry rendition of Madonna’s legendary dance club hit. The song remains intact, yet is re-framed. In the opening lines, you are certain that you’ve heard this song before, but you can’t quite place it. Listening to Emily’s 'Like A Prayer' moves you to the edge of your seat; crank up the volume and sing along.
As its title evokes, each song in this short collection is dedicated to someone. Thematically, these songs also explore the essence of dedication: how love, devotion, and responsibility are intertwined. 'Dedicated' is a hopeful, uplifting album whose richness is further revealed with every listen.