When you’ve already starred alongside Keanu Reeves (Replicas), Leonard DiCaprio (as a young Shirley Temple in J. Edgar), worked with directors like Clint Eastwood, acted in numerous television series (Code Black, Revenge), and you’re not even 20, you may have a lot to sing about. That’s exactly where Emily Lind is now—with more than a decade of acting already behind her—as she preps to release her debut album, Centralia, out spring 2020.
Produced by Kool Kojak (Ariana Grande, Kesha, Nicki Minaj) and Tizhimself, the album is an observant journey through the 17-year-old’s world at this point. Lind’s deep thoughts are evident in first single “Castles,” a lo-fi, beat-driven track about letting go of the pressures we often put on ourselves.
“Castles is about the realization that once you’ve hit rock bottom, up is the only place left on the map,” Lind tells American Songwriter. “We can’t change our pasts, but we can ruin our future by dwelling on it, and what a silly way to go about life, don’t you think?”
Lind’s versatility fluidly shifts from Hip-Hop to pop-fused to some sonic etherealness. There’s a lush transfusion of something dark, yet enlightening in her lyrics, all driven by almost fairy-like vocals, from the moodier slowed beats of “Pity,” about a questionable relationship, to the more dance-y “Shapes.”
Heavily drawn to songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, it’s no surprise that Lind would want to tap into singer and songwriter Sufjan Stevens—who has covered and written countless holiday tracks and even released Songs for Christmas in 2006—for a more festive cover. “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!” is Stevens’ heartfelt, yet dysfunctional take on the holiday season. Backed simply by acoustic guitar, Lind’s graceful, delicate vocals soothe the lyrics like Our father yells, throwing the gifts in the wood stove, wood stove / My sister runs away, taking her books to the schoolyard, schoolyard.
“I’ve always loved Sufjan’s take on writing holiday music,” says Lind. “Not to get all sad boy here, but I think there’s something so nice about the realistic spin he puts on a genre of music that is very one dimensional. It’s a beautiful song and a stunning melody.”
Lind, who recently starred with Ewan McGregor in the Stephen King thriller Doctor Sleep—a sequel to The Shining—as the deadly sleep inducer, Snakebite Andi, is still acting but focused on the music. Leading up the release of Centralia, Lind is releasing several more singles.
“There are a few songs in the works that are going to sound massive,” she says. “I’m stoked to see what all my new friends around the world think of it.”