The Barefoot Session leaves nothing to desire

It’s night, and the inside of a Chicago jazz club is dark, except for the dim neon lights that line the stage, where a pretty woman massages the ivory on a beat-up old acoustic piano as her evocative words come through loudly and clearly to the attentive customers, who sit and enjoy martinis and cigars. When singer/songwriter Emily Hurd performs, that image is sure to come to mind.

Hurd, since returning to Chicago, has been very busy in the Windy City. With a captivating stage presence, flourishing repertoire, and chops to match, she’s not your everyday musician.

The new CD, recorded live in just five hours, is not just a “piano” album. Nor is it a poet’s attempt to feebly get a point across. Lyrically, The Barefoot Session is deep, yet simple and sultry.

To say Hurd is up-and-coming would be an understatement. She’s no stranger to singing with the gusto that made Janis Joplin a legend, nor is she afraid to hold back while dynamically articulating each message.

Any piano is in good hands when the Owen Township native pulls up a stool. Although not overly complex, Hurd’s arrangements are punchy and fresh, and reminiscent of classic jazz, blues and folk. The 13 songs that make up the new album were chosen well, creating a true, well-thought tapestry, containing no throwaways or space-fillers.

The Barefoot Session, a self-produced collection, is the 27-year-old’s third album and has caught the attention of radio stations across the globe. The new album has made its way to WLUW 88.7, Fearless Radio, Radio Aria France, and Radio Holstebro Denmark, among others.

Gregg Ostrom (guitar), Eric Delli Bovi (drums) and Jimmy Tomasello (bass) make up the unit that backs Hurd. It may take a second listen to realize the band plays live on each track. Kudos to this trio for not only following Hurd, but for also creating a lustiness that certainly proves it’s a professional team.

Hurd began playing piano at age 6 and quit taking lessons at age 12, when she began exploring her creativity and began crafting her own music. During college, which included a stint at Northwestern University and an education in the culinary arts, her love of music flourished, bringing her back to Chicago.

The Barefoot Session along with Hurd’s second album, Potent One, are available at CD Baby and iTunes and locally at Randee’s Music, 4116 Morsay Drive in Rockford.

Hurd will perform Nov. 10 in Chicago, opening for blues artist Bettye La Vette, then returns to Rockford Sunday, Dec. 3, for a show at the Irish Rose Saloon.

More information about Emily Hurd can be found on the Web at or by calling her directly at 222-1449.

From the Nov. 1-7, 2006, issue

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