Emily Weisband’s new EP Not Afraid to Say Goodbye is made up of moments – the formative kind that reflect the singer-songwriter’s evolution and her distinct ability to own her truth. “I love zooming into a moment,” Weisband professes to Sounds Like Nashville. “I want people to listen to my songs and be in the moment with me.”
The brilliant, Nashville-based songstress, whose previous credits include co-writing Camilla Cabello’s “Consequences,” the Grammy winning “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott and additional cuts by Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett and others, zooms us into many emotional moments on Not Afraid to Say Goodbye. The four-song project arrives one year after having an Identity Crisis, with her 2019 debut EP that chronicled the life of a conflicted 20-something, as told through intoxicating beats that beg to be blasting through one’s speakers, while simultaneously embracing the raw storytelling that honors the integrity of Music City. “Holy sh– it’s heavy being in your 20s,” she sums up Identity Crisis in the title track.
One year later, she’s re-introducing herself to fans through Not Afraid. “It’s definitely a new me in so many ways,” she describes. “I have pressed the reset button on myself a little bit.” The project begins with the boldly self-reflective “Dumber.” The song was born out of a conversation Weisband and co-writer Kevin Kadish had about a toxic relationship Weisband had been in years prior and upon returning to the dating scene, she met a guy who was exhibiting similar behavior. The song finds the singer using her past experiences as a powerful tool against walking that same road while demanding better for herself, wrapping the epiphany around a pulsing bass and her candied voice. “It was a funny, casual way of saying ‘I’ve learned a lot. I’m smarter about love now and I’m smarter about who I am now,’” she explains of the song’s title. ‘”I might’ve allowed that into my life if I didn’t know as much as I do now, but I know what I know now, and I can’t unknow it. I can’t unlearn it or unsee it or unhear it, and I got to stay away from it.’”
Weisband compresses a 365-day transformation into four songs that collectively find the in-depth songwriter letting go of the elements in her life that were stunting her growth, whether it’s a toxic ex or previous insecurities, as demonstrated by the EP’s closer, “You’re Cool.” Rather than rushing to try and find the answers to her burning questions, Weisband is content in not having the answers, acknowledging through the lyrics with a chorus of voices supporting her, “you might really have a heart of gold/I can’t give you all my heart and soul yet/Maybe later/’Cause you’re cool but you’re still a stranger.”
“I think the Identity Crisis Emily was desperately searching for the black and the white. I think ‘Dumber’ Emily understands that it’s all gray. I feel like I’m running a lot on Identity Crisis and this I’m like ‘even if this hurts, I’m going to let it hurt. I’m going to lean into the hurt and I’m going to do what I know is right.’ It’s knowing what is certain and leaning on that in the midst of all the uncertainty and that being a bold, confident way to live,” she analyzes. “I’ve held on to things my entire life because I’m afraid of not getting something else. But empty-handing yourself almost so that something good for you can come along and fill that space is a very empowering thing to do. It was really empowering for me to start being okay with saying goodbye to these things that I had let define me for so long. That’s the theme of the project in a lot of ways, and every song on the project represents an aspect of that and the journey to responsibility for myself and what I know is right and good for me and letting go of everything else that isn’t in line with that.”
Like many people, Weisband found herself in a rough spot at the start of 2020 when she was dumped on New Year’s Day by a guy she had opened her heart and soul to one month before, channeling the anger about the breakup into “Out of This Car.” But the couple reconciled three months later and after rekindling their romance, Weisband did a deep dive into her emotions, leading to the gentle “The Way I Say Goodbye,” which she cites as her favorite number on the project. The piano-driven song finds Weisband in a vulnerable position as she states that she made every effort to show her true feelings, before coming to the conclusion that perhaps the most effective way to prove her love is in the way she lets it go. “That’s a very vulnerable moment of letting go of something, even if it leaves you with absolutely nothing, you’re willing to do that if it means the other person knows that you care about them,” she explains of the one tape demo that captures the raw emotion she was feeling in the moment. “And that’s basically about as low as you can get. That’s about as empty handed as you can be,” she adds with a laugh.
Another prominent theme that ripples throughout the EP, which is named after a line in “Dumber,” is boundaries. Where Identity Crisis captures a “very messy” time in her life, Not Afraid to Say Goodbye finds Weisband standing on the shoulders of her former self, stepping into her newfound growth and power. “I think they’re going to see the braver sides of me. They’ll definitely see the more courageous, brave, ‘stick to my guns even if I may be wrong, but this is what I decided’ side of me, and I hope it encourages other people to do the same and to not be afraid to let go of things that maybe it’s time to let go of and see it not as them being weak or being mean,” Weisband observes of what fans will learn about her through the EP. “I think they’ll see the more womanly side of me. I was a girl on Identity Crisis and I think they’ll see me growing into more of a woman on this project.”
Not Afraid and Identity Crisis are examples of what make Weisband a hidden gem in the Nashville scene and reflect the intentionality she puts into writing songs that tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, an effort that makes for timeless songs in her expanding catalogue. “I think there’s a lot of power in truth. I think there’s a lot of honesty in music right now and I think there’s a difference between honesty and truth. I think it’s trendy to be honest right now and say some shocking thing, but truth is the honesty underneath the honesty and it’s the facts and sometimes the truth is shocking,” Weisband examines. “My goal with writing is to always get down to the truth and I can stand by that at the end of the day. I can stand on that as an artist. I can sing that every night in 10 years from now and still mean every word because it’s true. I wanted them to be true,” she continues of her “compass” while writing Not Afraid. “Not just true for me, but true for everybody.”