Emilie Rivard will forge a deep musical connection with Tree Town Friday night.
The Royal Oak indie folk singer-songwriter will share her highly personal, reflective songs with an intimate Ann Arbor crowd at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom.
“This one’s just going to be on my own. I want to give myself some time and space to focus on my own work,” said Rivard, who will perform two 45-minute acoustic sets. “I am working on some new songs that I will be performing, and I will be doing some covers. It will mostly be original music, but the covers will be my interpretation of the songs.”
Throughout her mesmerizing sets, Rivard will showcase raw emotional vocals with a heartfelt wall of acoustic sound. Her relatable sonic tales of love, travel and growth will resonate with crowds of all ages and musical interests.
“There’s the spiritual element of letting go and letting music flow through you. The best music that I’ve created is what just comes out of me,” Rivard said. “I’m not trying to manipulate it, I’m not trying to do anything – it just comes. I’m committed to it, and I’m going to keep on going because there’s so much to learn from it.”
Rivard spent the last three and half years honing her guitar chops after studying with Detroit singer-songwriter Joel Palmer. She later added guitar to her repertoire after playing drums, piano, banjo and autoharp while growing up in Royal Oak with several musical siblings. That instrumental prowess also led to a deep musical appreciation for Simon & Garfunkel, Gillian Welch, Lauren Hill and Scott Joplin.
“I discovered when I was younger the soundtrack for the movie, ‘Amelie,’ by Yann Tiersen,” she said. “It’s instrumental stuff that’s kind of playful and whimsical, so I think that played a part in the kind of music that I play.”
Going Deep into Her Music
With diverse musical tastes and instrumentation, Rivard channels that inspiration and creativity into her own work. She eloquently reveals life’s epiphanous moments through four striking tracks currently streaming on her website. The tracks chronicle her personal experiences with fleeting romantic relationships, life’s unexpected turns and a growing sense of wanderlust.
As Rivard’s first break-up song, the emotionally-charged “I Wanted You” features a wailing guitar riff and beautifully highlights the longing in her voice as the relationship quickly unravels – “Were your kisses just mementos for me?/You were my darling/Oh baby, was I yours?”
Later, Rivard comes to terms with the relationship’s demise as her haunting vocals confidently respond, “Too bad for you/You missed the best of me.” Her delicate acoustic fingering signals her transition to a new start in life.
“Part of the story behind the song and the reason why I write songs is a way for me to decipher a situation and get some emotions out. It’s like a therapeutic process,” she said. “That song was a way to get out some of my anger about the way things went down because I was in a long-distance relationship for a period of time.”
Her next track, “Ticket in Hand,” captures a beautiful sense of sonic nostalgia with a melodic guitar riff that takes listeners back to an era filled with freedom and exploration. In a sense, the gorgeous track resurrects the creative spirit of Simon & Garfunkel in the 21st century – “It’s been three years since I’ve boarded an airplane/These walls are closing in/I’m feeling shifty.”
“Since I was young, I knew that I wanted to travel. My dad traveled a lot when he was younger, and I grew up hearing stories about his travels,” Rivard said. “I’ve done quite a bit of traveling of my own, and I was studying abroad in Ecuador and Argentina. Since I’ve come back, I haven’t really been able to do much traveling. I’ve been here for four years, and I’m really itching to get back on the road.”
Another love-themed folk gem, “All Mixed Up,” features an island-style acoustic groove mixed Rivard’s thoughtful vocals about a romantic relationship that refuses to progress beyond its current state – “I was about ready to have you storm my castle/Not really now/Yeah I want ya, but I know that I can’t have ya/You got me all mixed up.”
“That song is my expression about trying to force something and how that can really mess you up,” said Rivard, who also studied tap-dance and ballet while growing up. “It just doesn’t work even though I want it to, and I enjoyed aspects that did work, but I can’t deny the things that don’t. That was just a way to get that conflict out in a creative way.”
For the last track, “We Were Meant” includes an energetic acoustic guitar intertwined with hopeful vocals about a soulmate that got away – “I first laid eyes on you that night at the Ghost Light/We were meant to be lovers/We were meant to be friends.” It’s the final romantic tale about personally growing and evolving after another fizzled relationship.
“I still wanted to express the things that worked and the things that made me feel good,” Rivard said. “That’s why I wrote another one, so I that I can cover the bases.”
Growing Musically as an Artist
Rivard also has several new songs in the works for an upcoming debut album, which will drop next summer. The album will feature stripped-down acoustic arrangements featuring Rivard’s soothing vocals and personal reflections.
“Ultimately, I really want to get closer to an honest and raw expression and that form of music that comes from the subconscious when you let go. I want to make music that is close to my spirit as I can get, and the songs I’ve made so far are getting there,” Rivard said. “My goal is to get even closer to that state. I would love to make an album of music that’s as close as I can get and that I’m satisfied with.”
Outside of recording her album, Rivard will continue to perform live throughout metro Detroit. Her next show will take place Nov. 22 with Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Jordan Blanchard at Java House Café in South Lyon.
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday
Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom, 114 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor