There is something special that happens when an original talent begins to shine its light — letting the light move through into some shadowy places and dark corners. For singer-songwriter Erica Ambrin, it means allowing her audience to come with her on a journey of love. When you hear her sing her original songs Ambrin’s voice will stay inside your memory for days. At 29, she has caught on to a stream of songs that are as gently and seductively engaging as they are heartbreaking and enlightening. Her songs are the springwater flow of a new-talent original. Ambrin is an intense artist, with a poet’s soul at the core of her being.
Ambrin was born in Compton, just south of Los Angeles, where, 50 years ago, country-western music held forth at the Town Hall Party on Saturday nights. However, Compton is best known musically these days as the birthplace of gangsta rap and hip-hop, where such legendary artists as N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube came of age.
But, with R&B and jazz undertones, Amrbin spins lyrical narratives that are romantic, vulnerable, and insightful. Her music finds its genesis in her childhood with lyrics that flow with abandon. She picked up the guitar as a way to accompany the melodies that were locked inside her head and needed the rhythmic and seductive power of acoustic chords to find release.
“I was writing lyrics when I was 12,” she explains. “When I was 13, I did my first rap. After that I picked up the guitar and taught myself to strum chord patterns to go with my words. It all came out from there.”
With so many music influences around her, leading her more toward rap and hip-hop, what made her want to pick up the guitar writing these gentle melodies and lyrics? “Lauryn Hill has had a huge role in helping me develop my style,” she says. “And when she’s writing, she tells a story. I liked that beyond just writing the same lyrics over and over or trying to send out some kind of message song. This is more like reading a book. There’s a story to tell.”
As the artist, Ambrin has found a way to enlighten and deliver us to a world where love remains real and ready to bring us to the dance of falling in love.
During her childhood, Ambrin’s father was a DJ who exposed her to a wide variety of music. Her foundation came from hip-hop and soul music, but she has more recently been listening to bands like Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys.
After spending most of her life in the Los Angeles area where she honed her skills street singing in places like Hollywood, Venice, and Manhattan Beach, she decided to take a chance moving to Sacramento. What she found in that city’s music community was a place to be nurtured, to learn and grow as an artist.
“This is a loving town,” she says. “It’s a good place for support and there’s a growing scene of good music here. Rather than the competitive thing that goes on in Los Angeles, artists work together here to help push their projects. There’s a lot of support for local artists.”
Most singer-songwriters’ first albums encompass a lifetime of struggle and growth. Erica Ambrin is no exception. She describes her upcoming album – The Art of Falling, which she’s financing through a Pledge Music campaign – as her “journey through love.”
“The first four songs are about when I first fell in love,” she says. “The next four songs, which will be on the album, are about a time when I found someone I thought I was going to marry. Then in the final songs, I find the strength to love within myself. I find I can love in a real way, when I first fall in love with myself.”
The album will also include a bonus rap track that will carry with it the theme of the power and redemption found within music.
It seems clear that Erica Ambrin has found something of that power in the art of falling in love with music, and ultimately with life itself. And it is something she wants to share with us all. The Art of Falling is the art of opening up those vulnerable places inside and allowing others to be present. When the opening becomes a window that allows us to see the world through lyrics and melody as beautiful as this, it’s no wonder we all want to participate in the dance of the art of falling, so well expressed by this promising young artist.