Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Singer-songwriter Emily Keener is working on 'avant folk' album (interview/feature)

NORWALK, Ohio — Emily Keener is working on a new album.

“This is the first record of mine that will be on vinyl record,” the 18-year-old Wakeman musician said. “It’s slated to be released in late 2018.”

Singer-songwriter Emily Keener performs at the Old Town Hall
in Vermilion, Ohio during a September performance.
Courtesy of JOE RITORTO
The full-length album, which doesn’t have a title yet, will be her fourth. Keener’s first record, A BOOK OF NEW BEGINNINGS, was released in 2013. She is recording her new songs at Far Around Recording, 24 W. Main St. in Norwalk, which formerly was Dirtsandwich Music Co. (aka “The Dirt”).

Keener gained national notoriety during her run on Season 10 of “The Voice.” During her first performance — the so-called blind auditions, all four judges turned their chairs around and showed interest in her. Keener, who worked with singer Pharrell Williams, advanced to the top 12 before being eliminated from the NBC competition series.

Most recently, Keener opened for the country band Rutledge during the July 4 concert at the Huron County Fairgrounds.

When asked about her new album, Keener said many of the songs have been written and the “conceptual work has begun.”

“I think they are going to be honest and vulnerable,” she said, referring to her semi-autobiographical songs. “I think it will be avant folk.”

Keener said her previous album, BREAKFAST, was geared more toward pop. It was released in November.

Musician Emily Keener smiles as she strikes a pose
in this promotional photo for her third album, BREAKFAST.
The singer-songwriter isn’t dishing on who her fellow musicians are on the new album. At least not yet. Keener said she’s working with friends and “musical minds from around northeast Ohio.”

Once again Keener is working with Noah Heyman, who co-produced BREAKFAST. She said their friendship and previous working relationship “makes it a lot more fun” and adds a level of trust.

“I like the way his mind works,” added Keener, referring to the way Heyman approaches recording and producing. “I think it’s nice to (make music) with somebody you’re already familiar with.” 

Keener will produce her new album, which she said will allow her to have even more say in its musical direction.

“I think my voice has changed over the last year. It has gotten richer and deeper,” said Keener, who believes that should lend itself to the melancholy vibe of her new songs.

The Wakeman, Ohio musician is looking for some financial assistance from her fans. The album is part of a Kickstarter project. According the fund-raising site, Keener has a $9,999 goal to create “an intimate record with the help of your love and a little pixie dust.”

“We thought of some really cool rewards,” Keener said.

Emily Keener performs in this photo taken by Jacquelyn Palmer-Boyce.
Courtesy of the EMILY KEENER MUSIC Facebook page
Depending on the amount of contributions, fans can receive handwritten lyrics, personalized messages, songwriting lessons and what Keener calls “surprise performances.”

She has partnered with Kickstarter and Qrates, which makes and distributes vinyl records, so fans can have LPs shipped directly to them.

Keener plans on performing several shows in anticipation of the album’s release. For information on her upcoming gigs, visit the “events” tab at

“I have a bunch of local shows planned,” Keener said.

Fans can follow Emily Keener multiple ways on social media. Her Facebook page is “Emily Keener music.” Her Twitter account is @EmilyKeener and follow her on Instagram @emilykeenermusic.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story also ran in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper, where CCC blogger and webmaster Cary Ashby currently is the features staff writer who also covers Norwalk City Schools and local government. He covered the criminal justice system for 12 years and as a REFLECTOR  sports correspondent, has written football, basketball, volleyball — and even pickleball (!) — stories.

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