Emily Scott Robinson


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Traveling Mercies

Release Date: Feb 22, 2019
Label: Independent


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August 3, 2018

Emily Scott Robinson To Release 'Traveling Mercies'

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The life of the traveling musician has long been glamorized. Discovering new towns, finding inspiration at a roadside motel, crossing paths with extraordinary people in the most ordinary of places — that’s a romantic image we have of the itinerant musician, but for singer-songwriter Emily Scott Robinson, the journey goes far deeper than that. 

With her new album Traveling Mercies, Robinson offers a complex, thoughtful portrait of a real itinerant artist, one who carries the lessons of her past as she searches for a hopeful future. She and her husband live full time in a motorhome and spend long stretches on the road, turning chance encounters with strangers into stirring folk meditations on the human condition. 

“It’s called Traveling Mercies because the songs were borne out of our journey through the West these past three years,” Robinson says. “It’s been a really amazing creative experience.” 

The album opens with “Westward Bound,” a gently rolling tumbleweed of a folk song that showcases Robinson’s agile vocals, sharp observations and knack for an introspective lyric, like, “I need to see what part of me I lost can still be found.” The next tune, “Ghost in Every Town,” paints a stark portrait of the loneliness and anonymity of being rootless. Robinson wrote the song while she and her husband lived in central Oregon for a month last fall. 

“We stayed in a cluster of 20 RVs on an acre of dirt at the end of a gravel road,” she says. “A five-minute walk over the hill took you to a neon-lit trailer bar with video poker, cheap pitchers of beer and a gas pump. The rest of the land was empty desert and red rock. When you live in a place like that, the songs write themselves.” 

One of Traveling Mercies‘ most powerful tracks is “The Dress,” a spare, affecting acoustic ballad that details the haunting trauma Robinson endured after being raped in her early twenties. With courage and vulnerability, she poses many of the questions that such victims undoubtedly ask themselves, like, “Was it the dress I wore? Was it the wine he poured? Was there some sign I ignored?” 

“It was the aftershock of trauma that I remember so clearly,” she says. “For months, I drank alone. I ran sprints on my lunch break to try and calm my anxiety, I was afraid of going into bars and of walking by myself. The following summer, I was sorting through clothes and I found the white dress I had been wearing the night it happened. I was shocked that I’d actually kept an object with such terrible significance. It took time, but I found the strength to write about my experience. I want my story to be of service to other women — to help them feel less alone.” 

Robinson closes out the album with its title track, turning her keen eye for detail to our larger social and political challenges. Against the backdrop of a mournful fiddle and gently picked mandolin, she sings, “These days have been dark, it feels like our world has been coming apart.” She talks openly about her concern for refugees seeking safe passage to our country, which landed her a spot on NPR’s “The World” last spring in a feature about immigration. 

Traveling Mercies is dedicated to all the families crossing uncertain seas, rivers and borderlands with no promise of a safe return. It’s a blessing and a prayer — one we all whisper when someone we love leaves our arms. I hope it can remind us of how vulnerable love makes us. We all have that in common, no matter our nationality.” 

Traveling Mercies was produced by Neilson Hubbard, a Nashville mainstay who produced, among many other projects, Mary Gauthier’s 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards Album of the Year nominee Rifles and Rosary Beads. Robinson and Hubbard recorded the album at East Nashville’s Skinny Elephant Studio. Traveling Mercies features a stacked lineup of guest musicians, including Will Kimbrough (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell), Sam Howard (Ben Sollee, Aoife O’Donovan), Eamon McLoughlin (Emmylou Harris, the Grand Ole Opry), the Wild Ponies’ Telisha Williams, and harmony vocalists Grace Pettis and Robby Hecht.  

Though this is Robinson’s first proper studio release (having already released a full-length album, Magnolia Queen, and a live EP), it’s by no means her first introduction to the songwriting community. In 2015, she won American Songwriter’s May/June lyric contest for Magnolia Queen cut “Marriage Ain’t the End of Being Lonely.” She followed that award with two more, notching a Kerrville New Folk Winner trophy in 2016 and a Wildflower Performing Songwriter Contest win in 2017. In an early nod to Traveling Mercies, AmericanaFest announced Robinson as an Official Showcasing Artist for the 2018 lineup in Nashville this September. 

With Traveling Mercies, Robinson has announced herself as one of our important emerging voices in Americana and roots music. Beyond that, she’s given us a beautiful album, a balm for trying times which shows, through intricately crafted melodies and hard-earned wisdom, that we all have the same struggles at our core, and there’s no better time than now to take that to heart. 

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Press Clippings

This Week In Americana, August 3 (Americana Music Association)

Emily Scott Robinson, ‘Better With Time’ [Exclusive Premiere] (The Boot)


Sarah Frost – sarah@thepresshouse.com

Maria Ivey – maria@thepresshouse.com