May Stands Still
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May Stands Still

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Folk Pop

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Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Emily Herndon is the driving force behind May Stands Still. Working with a group of brilliant musicians, Herndon creates edgy folk music that blurs the line between folk and rock and roll. Her lyrical aptitude, refreshing honesty and musical surety have made her a favorite on the west coast, and she is a top-5 artist in L.A. on ReverbNation. May Stands Still received critical praise for their 2010 debut EP, Matter Of Time, but she raises the bar on the soon to be released When You Come Home, a collection of eleven literate and heartfelt folk/pop songs that have staying power.
May Stands Still starts off with the smart and peppy melancholy of "Gotta See". This is a mixed bag of emotions that is mildly tragic and utterly moving. "Wild" is an ode to someone who is able to create a sort of social magic from the stage. Once again May Stands Still wallows in deep and conflicting emotions and an utterly tuneful melody. "I Want You" is a classic song of love and longing that ends Ina wonderfully uncertain resolution. The song is well written and artfully performed; a definite highlight.

"New Groove" carries it with the energy and motivation brought on by new love, as well as the angst it brings. This is a nice snapshot at the inner thoughts that swirl around the fall. "Soldier" carries a dark beauty; informed by some Celtic influenced violin and some amazing vocal harmonies. This is a moving piece that will haunt you, particularly if you, like the song's narrator, are waiting for someone you know and love to return from deployment overseas. May Stands Still takes a surprising turn on "Make Me", building a solid groove in a song of self confidence and rugged determination.

"Sleeping Alone" is a beautiful moment of indecision and vulnerability where she explores her fear of dropping her defenses to let love in and her lack of fear of loneliness. "Wherever You Are" is a one sided conversation with a loved one who has passed away that communicates in real and heartfelt terms the worries that follow in the wake of loss.

"Raina" is a love song for the sort of free spirits everyone roots for here. The emotional lines blur here, as Herndon sings from her melancholy depths of real joy. "Falling" explores another aspect of happiness. Falling in love is compared to dreams, with reality the waking up. The orchestration here is beautiful, and the emotional weight of the song is wrapped in a beauty that keeps it buoyant. When You Come Home closes in appropriately melancholy tones with the lovely and quietly heartbreaking "Blue June". Emily Herndon is at her best here, and the song rolls out her heartbreak like honey from a jar.

May Stands Still makes a mark on listeners. Emily Herndon sings with the same quiet reserve and vocal beauty that made Margo Timmons and Cowboy Junkies famous. At the same time, there’s a world of emotion going on in Herndon’s voice, which is rich and a pleasure to listen to. The songwriting here is certainly worth taking note of as well. May Stands Still has a lot to say, and wraps each story in such beauty you’re likely to be transfixed.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
- Wildy's World


Emily Herndon, in her forthcoming full-length debut as May Stands Still, refuses to play to the hushed fragility that’s become the folkie-ingenue stereotype — forcing us to hear her songs in a whole new way.

That’s apparent from the first as the Los Angeles singer-songwriter opens with “Gotta See,” featuring a nervy acoustic guitar, a heart-splashing rhythm and a sharply ironic, simply devastating moment: “I don’t miss you,” then — “I just think about you all the time.” Herndon sounds, by turns, like Joni Mitchell and then Patty Griffin, so complete is her command of the lyric, so offbeat is her phrasing and instrumentation.

On “Wild,” Herndon creates a similarly interesting counterpoint by adding a jerky folk strum, even as she explores an empty place in her own life. The broken but resilient “I Want You” mimics the double-time cadence of “Gotta See,” even as Herndon intertwines her own double-tracked voice.

There are, of course, a handful of more straight-forward moments sprinkled throughout When You Come Home, times when Herndon’s work connects more directly with her forebears: “Soldier,” a moving outline on the costs of war, unfolds with the languid mystery of Mazzy Star, while “Make Me” catches a fizzy groove that channels the Indigo Girls. The closing “Blue June,” a smart rumination on lonesomeness, boasts with the brutally frank honesty of Lucinda Williams.

But, more often, When You Come Home — due on November, 1, 2012 — doesn’t so plainly state its influences, doesn’t really sound precisely like anything else that’s come before. There are soul-lifting, wordless vocal interludes, for instance, dropped into the middle of “Wherever You Are” and “Falling,” giving both of them a deeper complexity, this contemplative weight.

As she works, in a painterly way, with shadows and light, Herndon eventually uncovers the perfectly constructed mixture on “New Groove.”

An aptly named, angular number, “New Groove” finds Herndon juxtaposing a propulsive, at times almost metronomic, beat with these wildly inventive interludes — first a billowing cloudburst of strings, then a hootenanny fiddle. At the same time, she pushes her voice into this diaphanous, stunningly open place: It’s maybe the riskiest musical experiment that May Stands Still tries here, and certainly the album’s biggest triumph. - Something Else!


Emily Herndon strikes me as a shy girl, someone who will always be uncomfortable with heady praise no matter how long she ends up doing this. For one, she consciously chose to name her musical project May Stands Still, even though it's pretty much a solo endeavor. Whether May is an alter ego or named after the breezy month, Herndon's career is poised to take off like a bag in the wind with the November 1st release of her first full-length album When You Come Home.

Now, don't expect an ear-covering auditory assault. By definition, May Stands Still is about as gentle as indie folk gets. Herndon's beautifly understated tone doesn't so much lull as it draws you in for more. You want to spend quality time with her and all eleven of these songs, almost as if you're enjoying the California-by-way-of-Colorado chanteuse's company at a coffeehouse, wanting to make her feel at ease. Her voice has a breathy, "live" quality to it, like she's performing right in front of you. Very intimate, and very cool. Yeah it's folky, but because of the supoib instrumental support on a number of tracks, incorporating different styles such as jazz and Spanish guitar, they make you want to - gasp - dance!

Herndon's web site bio compares the face of May Stands Still to Canadian icon Joni Mitchell. After giving When You Come Home a couple of solid, critical listens, this somewhat patriotic writer doesn't know if he's willing to go that far, although her sound is reminiscent of another acoustic guitar-toting Canuck with mainstream appeal, and that's Feist. And seeing as how it's easy for me to get on a Canadian kick, I seriously find album opener "Gotta See" to be an indie folk version of Justin Bieber's "Baby"! It's totally coincidental, but if you snoop around MayStandsStill.com like I did, you'll find pop music isn't completely foreign to Herndon, evidence being a great cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". Ms. Herdon may want to consider making the trek north for Canadian Music Week from March 19-24, as we are very singer-songwriter friendly up here! - Music Emissions


May Stands Still is an acoustic folk/pop group based out of Los Angeles, and comprised of Emily Herndon (vocals/guitar) Asha Sukumar (violin/mando/vocals), Wesley C Switzer (bass/production) and Scott Bauer (guitars, vocals). Their new CD, When You Come Home, is available via Bandcamp.com and iTunes. Comparisons in their sound can be easily made to the work of Patty Griffin, Sarah MacLachlan, and Joanna Brooke/The Story. Emily recently took time to talk with me about the band’s foundations, their recent (and successful) Indiegogo campaign, and shares some stories behind the songs on their new album.

JW: Congrats, you’ve had a successfully funded Indiegogo project! As we’re listening to now to the new album, tell me what was the experience of crowd funding like for you?

EH: It was pretty exhilarating! Fundraising takes a surprising amount of hard work and promotion, but I was blown away by the kindness and generosity behind the donations–especially from those who have never met my bandmates or me. It felt like an affirmation that I am in the right place and choosing to do the right thing in my life. It was a very positive experience with Indiegogo as well–the platform was super easy and straight-forward and I would definitely use it again.

JW: What part has social media played in helping to spread the word about your music? On which service do you connect with the majority of your fans?

EH: Facebook has been my main source of contact with my friends and fans of May Stands Still. We also have a mailing list, but Facebook has actually been the best social networking site that we’ve used.

JW: How did you and the rest of the band members connect? Separate bands? School?

EH: I met the original band members of May Stands Still through a drummer/good friend who heard me play for the first time at a beach bonfire. He introduced me to my bandmates a short time later, who were classmates at Berklee School of Music. We had great chemistry as a group and moved together from San Diego to Los Angeles two years ago. The band has evolved a bit since then and I am excited to see what the future holds.

JW: While you’ve been compared to artists such as Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, and I hear a bit of Joanna Brooke/The Story in your style, who would you say are direct influences on your writing and your vocal style?

EH: I grew up listening to Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, and Carol King, who have been direct influences on my vocal style and writing. More recently I have been inspired by Ingrid Michaelson, Feist, and A Fine Frenzy, and I feel this is evident on our most recent record, “When You Come Home.”

JW: I’ve also read that as upbeat as some of the singles are, you are dealing with loss on this record. Would you mind sharing a bit about that and the songs that address it?

EH: I wrote the majority of this album after suffering a great deal of loss in a short period of time, including the sudden loss of a friend and the end of a long-term relationship. This album is very close to my heart, and follows me through the process of coping and healing. The songs are reflective and raw; specifically “Blue June” and “Wherever You Are.” But there is also a thread of hope that weaves its way through each song, especially as I survived the winter months and made it to spring (“New Groove and “Gotta See”). I am inspired by a person’s ability to endure traumatic and sometimes devastating experiences, and I hope some of the songs on this album may offer a moment of solace to anyone going through a difficult time.

JW: Any chance of upcoming shows or events outside of the LA area?

EH: How far outside the LA area? I’ll be playing a show in Temecula in the next month, and I’m crossing my fingers with high hopes to go to SXSW in Austin. Name the town, and I’ll do my best to get out there!! - Groove Loves Melody


"If you don't fall in love with May Stands Still and Emily Herndon's lovely voice..., something is seriously wrong with you. Seriously." - N/A


"The music of May Stands Still is soothing, thoughtful and absolutely captivating. Vocals and violin so sweet they melt your soul while your heart is busy dancing to the beat of the amazing rhythm section." - N/A


Discography

"When You Come Home" album released November 1, 2012
"Matter of Time" EP released July 02, 2010.
"Matter of Time" Single played on KPRI 102.1 in San Diego, CA.
"Gotta See" Single played on KPRI 102.1 in San Diego, CA.
"When You Come Home" and "Matter of Time" on Pandora Radio and Spotify
"Gotta See," and "Falling," debuted on Director's Cut Radio iRadio, Radio, and Podcast.
"New Groove" featured on Idiosyncratic Transmissions Radio Podcast
"When You Come Home" on rotation at DeliRadio
"When You Come Home" on rotation at IMRadio

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Bio

Emily Herndon is the lady behind the music of May Stands Still. She has introduced a new edge to folk music creating a sweet, quirky pop sound with traditionally folk instrumentation. Through the collaboration with a few extremely talented musicians, the sound developed was something truly special.

Emily’s poignant songwriting sets this music apart, which is evident in the EP “Matter of Time” released in the summer of 2010. Asha Sukumar and Emily produced May Stands Still’s first full-length album “When You Come Home,” released on November 1, 2012.

Emily Herndon’s love of music began with her learning piano by ear at the age of 6. When her older sister decided to abandon an acoustic guitar under the bed, Emily claimed it as her own, quietly teaching herself chords and melodies at 12 years old. Emily grew up in Colorado, spending much of her teenage years as a closeted musician and songwriter. Her music stayed a secret for several years until, at the age of 16, she decided to debut her songs to friends and family. With glowing reviews in tow, she made the permanent move to San Diego, and then LA, to begin her musical career.

With inspirations ranging from Patty Griffin and The Weepies to Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne, Emily’s gentle voice has placed her in venues all over Southern California. A quiet soul reminescent of young Joni Mitchell, she feels that “the best way to communicate emotion is through music; words aren’t always necessary to understand.”