It's been 15 years since Jay Moran and his crew put out a CD under the band name that imagines the sonic intersection of country, rock and soul as a mythical place. Madison's Emmettville conjures the mood of those tiny, shabby Wisconsin towns populated by not much more than a roadside bar, half a dozen droopy houses, a tractor and a truck.
Like small towns, Emmettville's music is peaceful, gorgeous, lonely and desperate for something bigger. You can hear it in the eerie pedal steel of the title track. It's a song Moran uses to depict an era of lost simplicity and lost security. "Used to be, you could work and raise a family," he sings. "But these days, two jobs, two loans and yet we're still a ways away."
Despite those struggles, Emmettville isn't wanting for optimism. Jon Vriesacker's violin defines the bright mood of "Right Time." The song is a call to positive action. "Start moving forward without hesitation," sings Moran, instead of "procrastinating until your coffee gets cold."
The clarity and sincerity of these 11 tracks make Emmettville feel like anything but a myth.