Emily Brown’s music is somewhere between baroque pop and gentle folk music — think vocals like Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission), Judy Collins, hints of Dusty Springfield, compositions like Joanna Newsom, and something else that’s hard to put a finger on. Last summer’s album Bee Eater is more produced and experimental than Brown’s prior works and it’s exciting to hear her use that voice of hers in more commanding ways. Track “Who Can Say” is a fine example of what we‚Äôre talking about here. But before we get carried away, who is Emily Brown?

A pianist and finger-picking guitarist, Brown’s vocals are at times sweet as a daisy, at times strong as an angry songbird. Her lyrics are touching and uplifting. Bee Eater is full of songs surrounding the energies and anxieties that can come from romantic endeavors and as a whole, it is a force of fantasia and an all around ear feast. Her latest release, Bee Sides (March 2019) is a collection of, well, B sides off that album. We’ll call it the quiet, calming daughter of Eater.

Part of what makes the Bee’s so unique is the coming together of so many amazing artists. And Brown is all about collaboration. She went to school in Provo, Utah, where she was grateful to work in what she calls was “an almost utopian music community.” Her road to establishing collaborative roots in Oakland has been slow and steady but picking up steam. And it’s showing in her recent projects. Brown is grateful for frequent collaborators like Jordan Glenn and other Oakland artists not constrained by aesthetic preferences, who are as she says, “interested in actively supporting each other.” Collaboration and building artistic support systems is one reason Brown decided to start pursuing her MFA in poetry at Mills College last fall. She is all about open-minded collaborations and creative energies.

When asked how Bee Eater and Bee Sides are different from her previous albums, Brown says that Eater is the most intensely produced thing she’s ever worked on. “I can be very particular and moody about production choices so sometimes I end up scrapping production ideas because I’m too afraid of going in the wrong direction. But with Eater, making something lush and layered and big-sounding was always the plan.”

Lush, indeed. Tracks are surrounded by calming instrumental variations that take listeners to deep tropical darknesses then float us back into the clouds again (god bless “In My Dreams,” god bless the Farfisa). Lovely all around: the cello and violin, the piano, a clarinet, French horn, those fat, warm percussions. “Sometimes” is a nice example of Brown’s ability to tell a story using not only her lyrics but by using the varying range of her voice. She’s a bird, this one. Brown is hugely grateful to producer Lindenfield, whose studio in Glendale puts out some killer records, from irreverent punk to nostalgic film scores (check this guy out)… But back to Bee Sides. The first track I heard off the EP is a song called “Someone Will Be Kind.” The track has an unadulterated purity to it: in the lyrics, in the simplicity of its composition and in its message.

It’s about a person having a tough day and the encouragement that someone will extend kindness to you. Check out the track for yourself and be soothed, if you fancy.

Brown’s next album is in the works. The project is called “A Fish of Earth,” which centers around the “emotional waves in long-term relationships.” After having an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her last album, Brown has launched another – support her latest Kickstarter here.¬†

If you’d like to check her out, Emily Brown will be playing in Oakland on April 16th at Golden Bull with Flying Fish Cove ( Seattle) with Emily Brown, and The Yellow Dress. Then she’ll be in San Francisco on May 6th at The Lost Church with Mike Edel.

Follow Emily on her socials: FB | IG