Gabe Lee Hurts So Good in Haunting ‘Emmylou’ Premiere

Check out this bluesy standout from Lee's 'Honky Tonk Hell.'

Written by Chris Parton
Gabe Lee Hurts So Good in Haunting ‘Emmylou’ Premiere
Gabe Lee; Photo credit: Brooke Stevens

Gabe Lee gets haunted by the ghost of love in a beautifully bluesy new track titled “Emmylou,” a downbeat piano ballad premiering exclusively on Sounds Like Nashville today (February 26).

A Nashville native and one of the few Americana artists with Asian ancestry, Lee’s “Emmylou” is something of a milestone for the independent talent — his first piano-based recording and surely a favorite of his classically-trained pianist mother.

Lee’s parents moved to the states from Taiwan in the early ‘80s, but his love of all-American song craft is on full display in the new track (which appears on his upcoming second album in two years, Honky Tonk Hell). Sporting John Prine-esque vocals and a Bob Dylan-like knack for poetic prose that cuts straight to the emotional bone, Lee croons about a romance lingering far beyond its “best by” date. With hungover-yet-hopeful vocals and a casual-soul sway, the singer-songwriter succumbs to the realization he is indeed, hung up on Emmylou.

“‘Emmylou’ is simply another heartbreak song — however, it is unique to this collection of songs as my first piano-written track to appear on a record,” Lee tells SLN. “I don’t often write on the keys, and I was pleased to be able to work up this bittersweet song about the stage where you’re simply unable to get someone or something out of your head. ‘Pining’ may not be the operative word, but it’s certainly a story about a person struggling with closure, a theme that sits right at home via the piano ballad. We recorded this in one whole take singing and playing, while David Dorn went back over it to provide the soulful and emotive B3 organ.”

“I try to wake up everyday, I try to find me something to do / But when the morning breaks and the sun comes shining through / I can never hardly move / I just lay in bed stuck here thinkin’ of you, Emmylou,” goes the chorus.

Lee further explores the world of late nights and heartbreaks he’s chosen to inhabit in the album, Honky Tonk Hell, which is set for release on March 13. Check out the rowdy twang of the project’s title track here.