“I’ve reconciled the fact that I’ll never live a simple life,” she says plainly, “and that’s alright with me. This is the life I chose for myself.” For Annalise Emerick, it isn’t just a brush-off. The self-starting, twenty-something, singer-songwriter has been on the road virtually non-stop for three years solid. This summer alone, she plays to sold-out crowds at over 150 shows in 90 different cities with the aid of nothing but a guitar. Choosing to leave behind any semblance of a normal life for the day-to-day of a traveling independent musician, however, was always a no-brainer for the Nashville spitfire. “It’s all about building on something and getting out there in front of people,” she explains. “If you’re going to do it, then you have to really go for it.” And that’s precisely what she’s done.
Gathering material from her life experiences and seemingly infinite travels, Emerick conceived the aptly named Field Notes, her debut, full-length album and subsequent road diary. Recorded with her heart on her sleeve and a collection of autobiographical tunes in her pocket, the album exhibits the raw vocals and heartfelt lyricism that have situated her among fans of Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin, and Natalie Maines alike. For Field Notes, it’s Emerick’s effortless aptitude to blend pop songwriting sensibilities with pristine Americana overtones that really shines through, highlighting her incredible penchant for spinning tales both uniquely personal and universally recognizable.
Eternally a free spirit with an insatiable wanderlust, Emerick comes by it honestly. “We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I feel like my life on the road was kind of inevitable,” she laughs. “I’m always exploring the notion of home musically, emotionally, and geographically.” The singer claims a scattering of cities as her muse, growing up in the rich musical heritage of both Seattle and Austin before eventually making her way to Nashville to attend Belmont University. In Music City she honed her craft, but it was several charmed summers as a camp counselor in Maine and New Hampshire that inspired her relocate to Boston and start her musical career.
In 2011, Emerick released her first project, Starry-Eyed, to heavy critical acclaim after it debuted at #9 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. The seven-song EP featured adult contemporary pop tracks sprinkled with twinkling production value that Performer Magazine hailed as “undeniably good.” Skope Magazinepraised the record’s “mellow and moving” tunes, while The Deli New England celebrated Emerick for “crafting melodies as pretty as her name.” The album went on to also catch the attention of American Songwriter Magazine who premiered her first single and music video, “This Love Won’t Break Your Heart.”
The success of Starry-Eyed prompted a nationwide tour that found Emerick playing to packed venues across the country. Some of her stops included a sold-out show at Cambridge’s historic Club Passim with Grammy-nominated artist Seth Glier and a capacity stint at 2012’s NXNE festival. “You could say my first touring experience was a memorable one,” she smiles. “To have that kind of reception on my first go-round was incredible. Obviously, I enjoyed it. I haven’t stopped since.”
Show by show, one crowd at a time, Emerick built quite a following for herself by taking charge of her own career. She dove right in, booking all of her own performances, self-promoting her music, and amassing fans from all over. “A lot of artists get lost in the business side of being a musician, but I love it,” she confesses. “I love booking shows, traveling, and making relationships with promoters. I think it’s important to know how to help yourself as much as you can.” Emerick’s undeniable work ethic and thirst for knowledge has been widely recognized throughout the music community with Sonicbids crowning her an “indie songstress with a head for business” in a recent blog feature.
Now, three years after the release of her first EP, fresh off of a first place win in the New England Songwriter’s Competition and a relocation back to Nashville, Emerick returns with Field Notes, a folk-inspired, markedly more mature turn for the singer that demonstrates just how much her endless days on the road and years of hard work have fostered her growth as an artist and performer.
“This album really means a lot to me,” she shares. “In a way, it’s a compilation of all the exploring I’ve done over the past few years… songs from being out in the world and experiencing life. These are songs about love, dreams, childhood friends, and stories I’ve picked up from traveling. The whole time I’ve been compiling material for this record, I’ve imagined an explorer out in the wild with a notebook just jotting down ideas, theories, and drawings. And that’s exactly what this album is. These are my thoughts. These are my field notes.”