615 Spotlight: Emily Hearn Makes 'Promises'

Emily Hearn

Listen to the somber "Cutting Ties," off Hearn's just-released EP

It might be a little bit tough to label the music of Emily Hearn -- who released her new EP "Promises" yesterday. We just prefer to call it good, and maybe a little bit eclectic. That's music to Hearn's ears.

"That was a personal goal of mine," she tells Billboard of the album, produced by Chad Copelin. "When I'm writing music, I want to not have any two songs sound the same, but still have them be cohesive in an album," she says.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, she didn't grow up dreaming of a career in music. That desire, she says, came later. "I had been writing songs for about five years now, but it didn't start out as a dream. I taught myself how to play guitar when I was a senior in high school, and started writing my own music when I was a freshman in college. I didn't really start pursuing it until later, but I love it."

Hearn says that country music was at the heart of her influences, growing up enamored by the music of The Judds and the Dixie Chicks. "I grew up in a southern town, and listened to country music growing up. But, when I went off to college, I decided to be something different. After a couple years of writing, I found that the stories and the southern lifestyle just wanted to come out of me. I think my music reflects a mix of pop and country."

She also credits Avril Lavigne as an influence on her style, but says that – at least as a songwriter, Brandi Carlisle really opened her eyes and ears creatively. "I love how her music is gritty, honest, and real. She was the one who I saw live that made me think 'I've got to do that."

Just like with any songwriter, Hearn shines brightest when writing about what she knows and has experienced. After all, she reasons, that's how she started writing. "I started writing songs because I was going through a break-up, so all of my early songs were sad and emotional. So, I just decided I wanted to write and play music that makes me happy – songs that other people can relate to. I started making up stories about happy things, and those songs made my last album. I got married this past year, so a lot of the stories on the new disc are true."

One such performance is the bouncy strains of "Gotta Have Him," which she admits is the flip side of her early compositions. "I love being able to describe the bouncy and bubbly feelings when you're in love. I wrote it in the car without a guitar," she recalls.

A song where Hearn admits to taking a different approach is the somber "Cutting Ties."  She said the song took a totally different route than most of her other songs. "I do typically write about romantic relationships. For this song, I was going through a hard time with one of my friends. She had started to retreat and was cutting her friends off. I've seen a lot of people go through that experience where maybe you're ashamed or too hurt to talk about it, and you cut people off who care about you. So, I decided to write a song about it. I didn't know if people could relate to it the same way they do one of my love songs. But, I've had a lot of people say that 'This is how so and so feels about so and so.' It's interesting how friendships ebb and flow, but they always need to hear 'I really care about you and I'm hear for you' as much as any other type of relationship."

LAST WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT: Maggie Sajak on Growing Up Famous