My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Emily Portman – Country Girl Like Me

emilyportmanOver the last few months, I’ve found myself listening over and over to a CD I came across by chance last year, Country Girl Like Me, by a little-known singer named Emily Portman from Kentucky.  This is a real hidden gem which deserves a wider audience.

Emily has a very clear, sweet voice with a wistful feel at times, and the songs she has picked to record are solidly country.  She is currently touring as part of the Conway Twitty tribute musical, playing Loretta Lynn, who she cites as her biggest influence.  She has also previously worked as a Lynn tribute act; a number of her Lynn covers can be viewed on youtube, and she does sound very convincing on these.  However, I am pleased to say that she has definitely found her own voice on this album, and doesn’t sound as though she is impersonating anyone.

In an interview from 2003 linked on her website, Emily says songs have to touch her personally for her to want to sing them, and that clearly emerges in her selection of material here.  The principal songwriter here is Rand Bishop, best known as writer of Toby Keith’s hit single ‘My List’, who was impressed by her talent.  Several of the songs are inspired by the experience of motherhood: Emily’s own song ‘John Morgan’ is a delightful tribute to her baby son, born in March 2006. As she says, “John Morgan taught me how to love”, and ends with the child gurgling “I love my mommy”. This may not be to all tastes, but I found it rather touching. Bishop’s ‘Whatever Makes You Strong’ is like a slightly less sweet take on the theme underlying Lee Ann Womack’s big hit ‘I Hope You Dance’, and one aimed particularly at hopes for a little boy.  ‘Big Life’ also measures motherhood and family life against the protagonist’s youthful ambitions and hopes of making it big, no longer regretted as a missed opportunity. ‘In My Time’ also has an autobiographical feel, but is one of the lesser tracks.

There are a couple of cheerful up-tempo numbers on the ever-popular “I’m country” theme. The title track tells her love interest how much more suited the protagonist is to him than her city rival and has some actual substance. ‘I’m Doin’ Alright’ is a somewhat less original take on the same theme, but still highly listenable.

My personal favorite track is ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, which is a truly great song (written by Richard Leigh and Bobby Fischer) about a woman who has fallen out of love with her unwitting husband, but is unable to tell him so (the chorus runs “One of us is lying, one of us is true, one of us is lying and I know that it’s not you”). I also like the sweet love song, ‘I Can’t Remember,’ and the attempt to get a guy interested in ‘Ask Me To Dance’. The only song I didn’t like much was the closer, ‘Walk Away Clean’, where the tune was less melodic and a bit poppier, and the lyric sounded a bit muddled.

Emily has donated her own songwriting royalties from the record (for co-writing the tracks ‘In My Time’ and ‘John Morgan’), and a proportion of overall sales, to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity helping severely injured members of the US armed forces.

The CD (released last November on indie label Aaron Records) can be purchased at http://www.cdbaby.com, and all the tracks can be heard and downloaded here.  In my opinion, it is well worth checking out if you like traditionally oriented female singers.

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11 responses to “Album Review: Emily Portman – Country Girl Like Me

  1. Razor X March 10, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    She’s very good. Thanks for giving me a new artist to look into. I like the tracks she has on her MySpace page — http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=220061591

  2. Pingback: Kenny Chesney Performed Intimate Show For Exit/In Crowd | The 9513

    • Billie D Allen March 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks for the great write up on Emily and her CD ! You are so right, she is a hidden gem. Emily
      is a real deal country girl, and is so beautiful and talented.

      Emily is so patriotic. Her good friend and promoter is a disabled Vietnam Veteran, and her record label owner did USO tours in Vietnam and Germany in the 60’s with Loretta Lynn.

      Thanks again,

      God Bless and Be Safe.

  3. Occasional Hope March 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    The link above doesn’t work, and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. If anyone’s interested, try
    http://www.airplaydirect.com/music/bands/23953/index.php

  4. Lee June 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I really liked this CD. I hope this young lady goes far and is recognized for her talents!

  5. Gregory Bryant June 22, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    For sure, Emily is the real deal ! Her talent is usquestioned, but there is so much more. Honesty, charm, devotion, beauty, sincerity, and love of God and country make her a winner. Oh!, and her new album reflects the kind of girl she is. I listen to it often and especially like ‘In My Time’. However,’One Of Us Is Lying’ may be the first big hit. The album is perfect for traditional country fans.

  6. Mel Borich June 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Emily is the real deal, what you see is what you get!
    She was raised in the country and has the heart and soul ‘of the Country’. She is a traditional country girl and very proud of it.
    I like ALL the songs on her CD “Country Girl Like Me”. . . . absolutely love “ONE OF US IS LYING” as well as “I CAN’T REMEMBER”. The two numbers that she wrote “IN MY TIME” & “JOHN MORGAN” are just great and exposes her ‘God given’ talent. With out a doubt we will be hearing a lot more from Emily in the very near future. She is a natural!

  7. saundra chandler November 30, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I discovered Emily’s singing at the Music Ranch USA in West Point, KY as one of the singers in the Country Cookin’ Band. As soon as she walked out on stage I knew there was something special, a charisma, but a modest true country girl. And when she began singing I was OMG this girl is remarkable! I still go see her sing at the Music Ranch USA when she is there performing. I look forward to the release of the new movie “Strawberry Wine” me & my family will be first in line. & her son John Morgan is a beautiful boy who loves trains & listens for the one to go by the ranch while momma is performing. My Cousin who has a terminal cancer is her biggest fan & friend. He says her music is healing to him and plays for everyone while he is doing chemo treatments. To sum it all up…Emily is a special person who deserves the best with her career & takes pleasure in the simple things & is greatful for all.
    We love you emilyxoxoxo,Saundra

  8. Len Snowden April 24, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I found Emily to be a true country singer the first time i heard her. She is a very beautiful and talented woman. I can imagine what a great mother she is as well. I hope some day to have the chance to meet her and listen to that pure country voice in person. As a singer and musician myself, I would honor the chance to sing a duet or two with her. I can dream can’t i?. I wish her all the best and hope that she will reach the stars. I’m sure she deserves every chance in the world.
    Good luck girl. Len

  9. Robin Keabler September 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I work with Emily’s manager Ivan who is also a gem. I met Emily thru Ivan and she cooked up a real country dinner at her house for me and my son who Ivan and myself was trying to get hooked up but my son lives in New York and sweet emily lives in Kentucky and we all know how those long distance relationships work so we all became good friends and she is the most beautiful person anyone would want to meet and has a voice meant for the heavens. Love always your friend Robin Keabler who also is a Kentucky girl just a little older.

  10. Leo ROBERTS September 9, 2012 at 1:34 am

    i love to hear you sing u are so much like loretta lynn u was blessed girl id like to be in your fan club plz write to me , i want to see u again u sang good at loretta lynns ranch plz write back u can email me at sweetman4764 @aol. com my name is Leo Roberts i live in terre haute ind

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