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Vincent Neil Emerson (from the album The Golden Crystal Kingdom available on La Honda Records/RCA Records) (by Brian Rock)
Rising Texas troubadour, Vincent Neil Emerson, deals with angst and alienation on his third album, The Golden Crystal Kingdom. Part Jim Lauderdale and part Hayes Carll, Vincent Neil Emerson creates a rustic, yet forlorn, landscape that spans from Texas to Montana.
Mournful pedal steel strains introduce “Time of the Rambler” as Emerson recounts his days busking for pocket change on street corners. Singing ‘well, I’ve been down, livin’ on the street. Been playing for change to a crowd of moving feet’ he recalls the lean, early years of his career. Enviously watching luxury cars pass by, he contemplates material wealth and asks ‘can it buy you freedom?’. After achieving some success in his career, he now looks back fondly on those hardscrabble days and the unfettered freedom it gave.
The Golden Crystal Kingdom title track follows up the sentiment as Emerson finds himself performing in a ‘gilded cage’ while wishing he was back singing at the local country store. The pedal steel, and mellow Outlaw Country rhythms help convey the sense of longing. “Time of the Cottonwood Trees”, “I’ll Meet You in Montana”, “Blackland Prairies”, “On the Banks of the Guadalupe”, and “Clover on the Hillside” all capture that same feeling of yearning for what once was.
Turning to social issues, Emerson gives a bleak, Bluesy, first-hand perspective of drug addiction on “Co’dine”. Increasing the tempo and intensity, he pleads for stricter gun control laws on “The Man from Uvalde”. Driving the point home, he sings ‘I don’t care if you’re blue or red, I just wanna keep my child from dyin’ at his desk’. Adding haunting, fuzzed guitar riffs, he celebrates his own Native American heritage on “Little Wolf’s Invincible Yellow Medicine Paint”. Lamenting the desolation of his land and his psyche, he sings ‘cover me up in Little Wolf’s paint. Medicine, heal me and take away my fear’. But his plea isn’t to make his life better, it’s to, ‘find my worthy death’. Worthy or not, death comes for him on, “Hang Your Head Down Low”. The lively Honky Tonk rhythms belie the tale of a man on death row. Recalling Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, he sings ‘late in the evenin’ when that train rolls by, right out the window I can hear it cry’. Torn between hoping for a better future and longing for a romanticized past, Vincent Neil Emerson reminds us that not even a Golden Crystal Kingdom can bring us happiness if we can’t find peace in the present moment. (by Brian Rock)
Listen and buy the music of Vincent Neil Emerson from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Vincent Neil Emerson website
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