Vincent Neil Emerson Releases Sophomore Self-Titled Album Embracing Texas Troubadour Tradition

by Clayton Edwards

Vincent Neil Emerson is a Texas-born singer/songwriter. He pours his life story and pain onto the page. Then, he turns that painful poetry into music that you can feel deep in your bones. He’s not just chasing a trend, here. Instead, it is clear that he set out to tell a story. More specifically, he is telling his own story. Every song on this album is like reading a chapter of his autobiography. Emerson writes all of his own music from his heart. However, you can hear his influences in this record. Namely, you can see how much Townes Van Zandt informed Emerson’s writing.

Select Tracks from Vincent Neil Emerson

Vincent Neil Emerson packed the release with ten of the best songs I’ve heard all year. The production on the album only serves to elevate the stellar writing. After all, legendary singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell produced the album.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get into my favorites from the album, in no particular order.

“Ripplin’ and Wild”

This is, without a doubt, my favorite track from the album. I heard this back in December on a La Honda Records showcase and instantly fell in love with it. The song sees Vincent Neil Emerson discussing life on the road. However, he does it in a unique way. It’s not exactly, “On the Road Again,” but, at the same time, it isn’t a song about being on the road and missing home. Instead, he speaks directly from his experiences on the road.

“So it’s two fingers whiskey / Don’t mind if it’s chintzy / Ash in an old buckskin can / I’m waitin’ out back / for the fear to attack / and I shake like a leaf where I stand.”

“Learnin’ To Drown,” the First Single off of Vincent Neil Emerson

This one discusses his father’s suicide and how he and his mother dealt with it. He killed himself and she hit the bar. Vincent, on the other hand, just has to process it all. “Learnin’ to Drown” is as deep as a well. At the same time, it has one of the best lines I’ve heard in a while.

“I don’t feel easy if the blues don’t come around / and my face don’t look right without a frown. / Well, if you can’t swim / you better learn how to drown.”

“High on the Mountain”

In a press release for the album, Vincent Neil Emerson said that he wanted to write a bluegrass song. So, this is his one departure from the Texas musical tradition. Like many bluegrass songs, the instrumentation sounds upbeat. However, the lyrics are steeped in sadness.

The song explores mourning, heartache, and missing the way things used to be at home. However, the chorus brings it back around. “High on the mountaintop again. / High on the mountaintop with all my ramblin’ friends. / High on the mountaintop again.”

All in all, this is a great album from start to finish. If you’re into folk or country music you should give it a spin. It’s available everywhere you get your music right now.