This work is an enchanted guide through the sacred enigma of intimacy and connection, in a time when disconnection weighs so heavily upon us all. I designed this record to give every listener a heightened plane on which to explore the unknowable spaces between ourselves and others.

Through a lens of shimmering fantasy, we enter this fog-covered canyon in mystery. We pass through nightmares and dreams—shedding faults and gathering wisdom along the way—to finally exit in vivid illumination.

I’ve designed this musical expedition in four parts, represented by a little spell: First Descend, Then Divide, Make It Hallowed, Make It Wide…

We begin by examining the sources of disconnect in our lives, and commit to braving these weighty expanses. In the most difficult part of the process, we tease out the expectations, judgements, and selfishness that prevent us from connecting wholly. With tenderness, we learn to see beauty and magic in our fellow beings. And finally, we summon the courage to stretch our hands and hearts across the divide in trust.

First Descend



MASKS (2020)

“If you know anything about Emily Merrell, you know she has a lot to say. But when she says it, she’ll express it with just the right amount of passion, beauty, color and artistry. If you don’t know anything about Emily Merrell, you should, and you can start with checking out her new album, Masks.

It’s an intricate and beautiful account of the human experience, bursting at the seams with layers of sound and texture. There’s a song for every emotion on this album, and I think Merrell would say there’s a song for every “mask” you’re wearing on any given day. I think that the phrase “album release” is an understatement in this case, as there’s a whole digital world of art behind each song.”



Emily Merrell’s sophomore album “Masks” anchors somewhere between art pop and cinematic jazz fusion (Kate Bush meets Janelle Monae), weaving playful and evocative lyrics through colorful harmonies and energetic grooves. Inspired by Emily’s fascination with our human tendency to pose, posture, and conceal, the project explores themes of disguise and disclosure: “Masks can be calculated or unconscious; liberating or constricting; subversive, strategic, coquettish, coercive, and everything is layered.”

Masks seemed an inevitable theme for this body of work as Emily began to face the truth of her mother’s narcissistic personality disorder (and terminal brain cancer diagnosis), the limitations of socially-constructed gender norms and presentations, and the many-layered facades of the institutions of power holding up our world. As a concept album, “Masks” hits this thematic material head-on with discerning, if whimsical lyrics, but also takes a symbolic approach—layering bright grooves and harmonies over gloomy text, or cloaking light-hearted lyrics in harmonic depth.

Pursuing a desire to lift this project into a physical space, Emily has curated a team of brilliant visual and performance artists to create several mixed-media companion pieces for each song. Emily is particularly thrilled to have each of her pieces brought to life as an adult-coloring-book—manifesting her belief that creativity is paramount for all. “It’s the most joyful thing to demonstrate my values in such a purposeful way, to give my listeners this immersive template to fill with their own creative expression.” The remaining mixed-media works will exist exclusively inside of the private 10-day interactive digital experience Emily has designed to most-meaningfully host this project.

Aside from curating The Masks Experience, Emily has spent the past two years putting her arts-centric values first with her original podcast, “Artifice,” wherein she interviews professional artists about the origins and development of their creativity, the logistics of life as an “artpreneur,” and their strategies for blending vulnerability with veneer as they cultivate creative resilience. And as always, Emily draws from creative philosophies and curiosity first-fostered during her time studying jazz at the world-renown University of North Texas as she seeks to break barriers of genre, theme, and medium in search of new inspiration.




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“It sounds like a sunny spring day with just a hint of winter in the cool breeze; it sounds like a pink-and-white dessert so artfully presented that you’re not sure if you want to eat it or put it in the Louvre; it sounds like a hotel lobby you’d want to live in; it sounds like the memory of a lovely dress; it sounds like a city blooming before you like a strange and beautiful flower.”

Two Story Melody

“The edgy pop production and Emily’s infectiously catchy vocal style is exactly what you need today…Right now we’re enjoying pretty much everything Emily has to offer, from her music to her branding, and even the art direction behind the entire project.”

Keep Walking Music

“Erring on the side of epic and cinematic Merrell fuses the foundation of pop, with her jazz slip ever showing throughout the album. Her diversity of influences adds up to a stunning listen, coupled with the mixed media experience this is a must experience. Masks is a full throttle listen and an embodied experience.”

All About Vocals

“We immediately got hooked on her charming and pure voice. We are very excited to see where her career will go…”

Cheers to the Vikings

“She is clearly in her own realm of creative liberation.”


EMBARK (2012)

Embark is a beautiful collection of songs about adventure, beginnings, and movement. These dreamy and dramatic modern-jazz compositions are delivered with equal parts sincerity and polish, and provide a thematic foundation for Emily’s later works. “Embark” is both dark and whimsical—brimming with ethereal color palettes, graceful textures, and wholehearted tenderness. In the spring of 2013, Emily received a prestigious international Downbeat award in the Original Composition category for her piece, “Ondine’s Dance.” Emily was also selected as a winner of the International Jazz Education Network Composition Showcase in 2012 and had the immense pleasure of performing her original composition “Secret,” at the JEN conference in Louisville, Kentucky, accompanied by several members of the outstanding Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra.


Emily Merrell – vocals
Addison Frei – piano and keyboards
Brian Ward – acoustic and electric bass
Andrew Merrell – drums and djembe
Aaron Hedenstrom – tenor saxophone and clarinet
Adam Hutcheson – alto saxophone and flute
Matt Hornbeck – electric, nylon string, and acoustic guitars
Jose Perez – percussion





close my mind to fear, leaving weakness behind • I find my dreams within a memory • all hearts unite a beating pulse • just like the bare tree, my heart in quiet peace • in your dreams can you feel my love • days may come when you wonder if you’re dreaming while you wake • the stillness holds my heart, now • you’re flying on your broken wings • can you see your courage has gone far away • the voices, in whispers, weave and spin • what if the first tree was found in winter • like a spider in the web you weave  • I hear a wind, a whisper • fear will never save you from the truth • what I have not become I will reclaim • breathing new life • every morning is new • with blankets of shimmering mist • keep your eyes on what you think you see • never looking back, I’m running free • not waiting for my leaves • my eyes are closed and still • the melody breathes peace around me • breathing new life • arise with the dream no longer asleep • knowing now where I’ve been • why shouldn’t I believe that you will come to me • all souls embrace again • survive the fire by reaching for the flame