AUDIO: COURAGE UP
Emily Shirley’s brand of thoughtful songwriter pop/rock is as finely tuned and brightly colored as the graphic design projects she works on for her day gig. Courage Up, her 2018 release now available as a limited edition disc, is a genre-bending hybrid of indie-pop melodies woven over thoughtful, grounded lyrics and continues Shirley’s presence as a vibrant writer who has come into her own in the Austin, Texas scene. Produced by Mark Hallman (Carole King, Ani DiFranco) and engineered by Andre Moran at The Congress House Studio in Austin, Courage Up features Shirley’s signature earworm melodies and indie-pop arrangements. Shirley tells life stories through song, revealing interesting characters and settings in a way that the listener still finds relatable. From the “Dolores,” an exploration into the point of view of an accused killer’s mother (inspired by Netflix’s Making a Murderer documentary series) to “Over the Fence” which perfectly encapsulates the bittersweet innocence of a first friendship, her artistic point of view and skillful sonic experimentation make for a varied and stirring repertoire. Shirley performs in and around Austin with her own band, and also as part of The Big Fix and The Belle Sounds.
HI-REZ PRESS PHOTOS
PRESS: STREETLIGHT GLOW (Single)
From: Track Rambler
Author: Megan Matthews
A negative stereotype-turn-powerful tool for reclaiming sexuality, Emily Shirley’s latest single, Streetlight Glow, is in a league of its own. She utilizes a graphically intriguing, taboo scenario written out and sung with enough conviction to force the scene to play out in your mind – red neon tint and all.
A song that tells a story – one of powerful women in downtrodden situations; mothers who can’t make rent, students with books to buy and struggling professionals – Shirley has ensured that this is not a tale of despair. The character, who can only be described as the protagonist, embodies strength and empowerment within the lyrics, and I can’t help but want to know more about her. This is more than a song, truly I believe that this is a statement – a sharp, somewhat-country call to action, for all women, to be stronger; don’t fuck with us.
A revolutionist for a singer, Emily Shirley is not the norm. She stands out with impressive prowess, and if you don’t believe me then just look at her website. A designer during the day, she’s living a double life that ebbs and flows with sheer creativity; something that shines through with the alternative, and honestly far too often ignored, perspective offered within this story.
Shirley, a Connecticut-native and Austin-living singer-songwriter, takes back ownership of perhaps one of the most detrimental, demeaning words used against women within this song – as if the story itself wasn’t a feat enough. ‘You thievin’, cheatin’ SOB,’ she sings, ‘you messed with the wrong bitch’; for me, this is intrinsic to the feminist nature of the song and it makes me feel powerful.
A song that’s available for download from her site, she asks for a payment of whatever you think it’s worth; an interesting invitation for you to value this, based on what the lyrics mean to you. For me, it’s priceless – an entertaining story and a, perhaps self-imposed, meaning to them ensure that this song will be on repeat in my apartment. I highly recommend you do the same.
Now, you’ll notice I’ve explained very little of the story that the song tells, and that’s simply because it is an experience; you don’t need to read it from me, you need to hear it from her. Check out the track on her website below and share some love.
FROM: Ear to the Ground Music
AUTHOR: Matt Simon
The music of Shirley beautifully captures the thriving Austin music scene. Her ability to craft tight outlaw country tinged tunes, while still telling a compelling story is a rare find. Perhaps what makes her even more impressive is her ability to balance her own graphic design business and being a mom, while still creating music of the highest order. “I had to carve out my solo space and find a way to let music work with my lifestyle,” she explains. After releasing a series of impressive singles, Shirley released her DuoTone EP. On “Streetlight Glow” we hear a nice blend of genre and songwriting that will make listeners of all persuasions perk up immediately.