Emily Elbert is an acclaimed and highly-regarded singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has spent much of the past few years focusing on co-writes, studio work and touring with Gwen Stefani, Esperanza Spalding, Leon Bridges, Sara Bareilles, Jacob Collier, Jenny Lewis, and a lengthy list of others.
The Elbert and Alex Krispin co-produced Woven Together is slated for a Friday release. Marking the first batch of original music from Elbert since 2018’s We Who Believe in Freedom, the album features additional instrumentation from bassist Solomon Dorsey, who has played with Lucius, KT Tunstall and Jose James; drummer Abe Rounds, who has played with Meshell Ndegeocello, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills and Seal; and Hailey Niswagner, who has played with Clairo and Kali Uchis on woodwinds.
Woven Together sees Elbert and her collaborators meshing psych soul and folk over ideas of transcendentalism with the album’s material touching on themes of community, self-inquiry, vulnerability and gratitude with the album bringing the listener to the turbulence-free journey from self to universe. “Making it felt process-oriented and exploratory, without any sense of capitalistic pressure – music for the sake of making something loving and true.” Elbert says.
“One thing that feels central to the whole project (and my being) is the idea that any act can be an act of prayer, pleasure or play,” Elbert adds “It felt that way making this whole album, really – rooted in the Earth, but reaching for the stars.”
Last month, I wrote about “For Free,” a strutting bit of soul-meets-folk featuring sinuous bass lines, glistening bursts of Rhodes, Dylan Day’s swampy and funky guitar lines paired with Elbert’s effortlessly soulful vocals and her unerring knack for an infectious, euphoric hook. Seemingly indebted to Muscle Shoals and Bill Withers, the song is rooted in old-timey craftsmanship and earnest songwriting. “It’s about experiencing joy in simple, innate pleasures; but also a dig at the systems that try to convince us that we’re more ‘consumer’ than spirit or animal,” Elbert explains.
“Stream of Consciousness,” Woven Together‘s last single before its release is centered around a snaking bass line, trotting horse-like percussion paired with Elbert’s honeyed cooing. Sonically seeming like a slick synthesis of classic rock and neo-soul, “Stream of Consciousness” lyrically references the writings of philosopher J. Krishnamurti and the Buddhist concept of Mahamudra, the union of all apparent dualities. “It’s intention-setting, a prayer; lovingly and respectfully acknowledging the perpetual cycle of life and death,” Elbert explains.