Aaron Embry, Tiny Prayers

Stephen M. Deusner

By Stephen M. Deusner

on 12.05.12 in Reviews

Tiny Prayers

Aaron Embry
Showy in the least showy way possible

The brother of actor Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait), Aaron Embry took his sweet time making his solo debut. The 36-year-old musician paid his dues as a sideman for an impressively diverse range of clients, including Daniel Lanois, Elliott Smith and Emmylou Harris. He toured as keyboard player with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes and opened for Mumford & Sons earlier this year. Now he takes center stage on Tiny Prayers, which is showy in the least showy way possible. Striking a tone of folksy melancholy, Embry does a lot with just a few warmly familiar elements: gently plaintive vocals, keening harmonica wheezes, precisely plucked guitar and mandolin and flourishes of piano. On each song, he finds new ways to combine these instruments, constantly assigning them new roles in the production. Punctuated by distant piano chords, “No Go” possesses a stately ambience that recalls countrypolitan producer Owen Bradley, while a zig-zagging zither lends “When All Is Gone” its barely contained nervous energy. Graduating from side- to frontman, Embry has created an album that inventive yet intimate, bold yet eloquently soft-spoken.