Talking Music: Singer/Songwriter Emily Hurd Discusses Album, Long Lost Ghosts

Chicago based singer/songwriter Emily Hurd’s eighth album Long Lost Ghosts is set for release on January 1st and is the first essential album of 2012.

Originating from Rockford, Illinois; Emily has toured the U.S. for several years and gained a loyal following, particularly in the South-eastern States where an annual event called Emilyfest provides the singer and her band a country stylised venue of big skies and high country grass to perform open honest and uplifting country driven folk songs that have captured the imagination of a generation.

Emily’s accolades have included her opening as a solo act for the likes of Roger McGuinn and Geoff Muldaur and her song The Likes of You, which won the 2008 Unisong International Song writing Contest and the 2009 International Song writing Competition.

Further to this, her song Help Me to Understand was featured in the hit CBS drama series NCIS in 2010. Emily was pleasantly surprised when the song featured in the show:

“I have a non-exclusive licensing company that ended up landing the deal for me, but I didn’t know it happened until a friend called my uncle who called my dad who called me, saying that my song was on NCIS”

 “I haven’t owned a TV for almost a decade. So, it took a while for the magnitude of that song placement to sink in.  I’m still flabbergasted.  If you would have told me when I wrote “Help Me to Understand” that it would be the song playing in the background of a hit crime series at the moment that the main characters find a human eyeball in an ice cube, I never would have believed it.”

Meanwhile, Emily had started work on her new album Long Lost Ghosts, an album she says took a year to put together.

Emily’s previous recordings prominently featured her playing piano, however Long Lost Ghosts also features Emily playing the ukulele which itself maintains a powerful presence on the album.

Emily explains:

“I started playing the ukulele the same way Django Reinhardt started playing the guitar”

“I got a herniated disk in my neck last year after an accident.  My friend Aaron Keim had just built me a ukulele out of some reclaimed wood that he stumbled upon, and the timing was perfect. 

“I was laid up, and it really hurt to play the piano, so I just wrote and wrote on that little uke all summer long while I was recuperating.”

Emily Hurd plays several ukelele led numbers on her album, Long Lost Ghosts. Photo: Al MarkunasEmily Hurd plays several ukelele led numbers on her album, Long Lost Ghosts. Photo: Al Markunas

Emily Hurd plays several ukelele led numbers on her album, Long Lost Ghosts. Photo: Al Markunas

The positively upbeat tracks on Long Lost Ghosts feature Emily on both piano and ukulele accompanied by an accomplished band of musicians.

“The band did so much to make this album what it is”

” I may have made the songs, but the players made the songs beautiful.  Darren Garvey (drummer/percussionist) is to be credited for the driving energy of this record.  John Abbey (also the producer) filled out the sound with that anthemic rhythm guitar and soaring bowed bass. Maria McCullough’s fiddle and Sue Demel’s background vocals just added an amazing country/soul luster that I hadn’t planned for at all.  I never thought when I wrote these little ditties on my uke that they’d wind up as sweeping folk songs with such intense acoustic energy. “

Had the positive themes flowing through Long Lost Ghosts being a time of change for Emily? 

“Making this upbeat album has changed me to my core. Or more accurately: giving my core a chance to be upbeat has changed my relationship with music.

“ I’m currently at a better place in my life than I’ve ever been, basically because I’m letting myself be acted upon by my own happiness.  For a long time, I forgot how much depth there is in joy.  People talk a lot about “deep anger” and “deep sorrow,” largely because you have to sink down to get to those emotions.  Having done my share of achieving that kind of depth, I’m ready to sink down into some heavy mirth and merriment.”

On asking Emily’s favourite tracks from the album, she responds:

 “I love “Long Lost Ghosts” the title track.  That song felt like it fell from the sky, into my brain, and then onto my notebook paper without any effort on my part at all.  Lyrically, “Easy Call” is the strongest to me, and from an arrangement standpoint, I like “Silent Conversations” and “I Love You Too.”

Emily plans to tour Long Lost Ghosts extensively into 2012

“I’ll be travelling a lot within the U.S., hopefully Canada and Europe as well.”

Fans can catch news of Emily’s tour dates, new releases, videos and blog at her official website

  • This interview by Andy Howells was originally published via the website suite101 on December 22, 2011. It was revised for publication on September 1, 2019.

  • Main photograph of Emily Hurd by Tony Bartman