Aaron Embry Strikes a Key

The multi-instrumentalist hits the Casbah with Americana on Thursday

If the hills of the Santa Ynez Valley had a soundtrack -- some man-made arrangements to complement the wind catching on the overgrown grass that lines the hills -- Aaron Embry would write it. Really, he’s already started.

Best known for his time as the keyboardist for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Embry kneads piano keys into submission, warming their somber sound alternately with his folksy drawl and harmonica hum. A snake charmer cajoling the softer side of bluesy Americana, Embry will bring simpler times to the Casbah on Thursday.

Embry released his debut solo record two years ago, 10 tracks made bouncy with a heavy piano baseline. The resulting "Tiny Prayers" emanates the sort of inherent comfort and security that make an old farmhouse beautiful -- filling cracks between floorboards, washing over cobwebs and making a once-dark space glow, the story flowing from Embry over movements that offer comfort in their simplicity.

But that was two years ago, and Embry has been busy looking forward, recording the next chapter. With the help of a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, the Southern California native brought his next album, "Life Ahead," to the studio. It’s there now, recorded but being massaged into final cuts, the roughs of which are promising on their own. It’s the pluckier side of Embry, rounded out with more growl, more energy, and more instruments without sacrificing his rustic sparsity.

A lucky Casbah listener might hear more of that this Thursday night.

Aaron Embry plays the Casbah on Thursday, July 10, at 8:30 pm; $10; 21+. Hey, King! opens.

Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, recently moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.

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