5 Questions With Vincent Neil Emerson About His Superb Self-Titled Album

by Jim Casey

Vincent Neil Emerson busted outta the chute with his 2019 album, Fried Chicken and Evil Women. The debut project caught the attention of fans steeped in the sounds of traditional Texas twang. It also led to tour dates with the likes of Colter Wall, Charley Crockett, and Turnpike Troubadours, among others.

In June 2021, the 29-year-old Lone Star State luminary released his self-titled sophomore album. Produced by Rodney Crowell, Vincent Neil Emerson features 10 songs that highlight the talented tunesmith’s Texas roots, including standout tracks “High On Getting By,” “Learnin’ to Drown,” which addresses his father’s suicide, and “The Ballad of Choctaw-Apache.”

Vincent Neil Emerson took a break from a recent tour stop in Nashville to answer Outsider‘s 5 Questions.

1. Texas has such a rich history of great songwriters. Who inspires you?

Vincent Neil Emerson: I really love Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. I think those are my two guys, but it’s hard to pick between all the great songwriters that Texas has bred.

2. Your music crossed my plate after you started touring with Colter Wall in 2019. How did you meet?

Vincent Neil Emerson: He was playing a show in Dallas. And I wandered backstage and he offered me some moonshine. We started talking about music and we kind of hit it off.

3. What song was the catalyst for the new album?

Vincent Neil Emerson: I think “High On Gettin’ By.” It was one of the first ones that I wrote, if not the first one for this album. After I wrote that song, I realized that I could write a little more serious subject matter and more personal stuff. I wrote most of the songs during the pandemic, except for “Durango,” which I wrote around the time I was writing a lot of the songs for Fried Chicken and Evil Women. But it never made it onto the album. So it’s just one of those songs I’ve been holding onto for a long time. And I finally decided to record it.

4. Speaking of serious subject matter, how difficult was writing ‘Learnin’ to Drown,’ which is about your father’s passing?

Vincent Neil Emerson: I always have a rough time writing about those things, about my father’s passing and my feelings about it. Just kind of what I’ve been through. So I figured if this is going to be that kind of album, that I would take another shot at it and try to write. And I think it’s one of my favorite songs to play. This song, a lot of people are connecting to it in a pretty huge way, and that means a lot to me.

5. This is the best new album I’ve heard in 2021. What do you have planned the rest of the year?

Vincent Neil Emerson: You know, I really appreciate that, man. And a couple people have told me that. And that means the world to me that this is a favorite of anybody’s. It’s really cool. The rest of the year, I’m gonna play as many shows as I can play. Eventually, I think, we’re going to try and get back into the studio and make another album at some point. But other than that, we’re just trying to hold fast and keep going.