Explorations, revivals and a passing

Piano prose: Many years in the making, local singer-songwriter Emily Kollars released her debut EP Past 10 last week. As such, it’s a bit of an exploratory record.

Piano stars in the EP’s five songs, while Kollars dabbles in rock, pop, R&B, jazz and funk. Some songs take on a more vintage quality, others more modern—partially due to the varied instrumentation, which includes organ, pedal steel and synthesizers.

Whatever the combo, it usually works. Still, Kollars’ voice sounds strongest when she’s singing R&B, like on the soulful track “Honey.”

I’m also excited by “Sylvia,” the album’s funkiest and, in some ways, most imaginative song. The lyrics are actually taken from John Dryden’s poem “Sylvia the Fair”—written in the 1600s—and it’s hard to imagine these words spoken any other way. Learn more at www.facebook.com/emilykollarsmusic.

The good ol’ days: If you’re one to boogie down like it’s 1950, check out Todd Morgan & the Emblems’ third record Sweet Pretender, which dropped in August. Old-school rock ’n’ roll revival bands aren’t exactly lacking on a national level, but locally, Morgan’s sound is confident and refreshing.

The first single to hit the radio, “Tell Me,” is tight and catchy, though there are quiet a few other radio-friendly, upbeat numbers on Sweet Pretender. “You Have No Idea” was a bold and great choice for an opener though, delivering a surprising psychedelic edge. “Willow Tree” continues Morgan’s Beatles-inspired writing style, this time hardcore channeling “Across the Universe.” Morgan’s band first formed—though its members have changed—as a ’50s cover band, after all.

The next local sock hop—err, performance—takes place at the St. Anthony Parish Fall Festival (660 Florin Road) on Saturday, September 12. Keep up at www.facebook.com/toddmorganandtheemblems.

Grab the mic: #TheMostOpenMicInTheCity spent about a year-and a-half popping up around town, but now the free-form open-mic is moving indoors. Starting Sunday, September 13, find emcee Andru Defeye and his crew at Sol Collective (2574 21st Street) weekly at 8:08 p.m.

All genres and levels are welcome, though this open mic definitely tends to skew toward spoken-word poetry and hip-hop. Defeye will co-host with singer-songwriter SpaceWalker (see music feature on page 38). To make the event audience-centric, folks can text in feedback about the performances, which will be live-streamed and projected behind the stage. Defeye calls it “The Hater Screen.”

—Janelle Bitker

RIP Brianna: News of singer-songwriter Brianna Lea Pruett’s death spread quickly on Facebook last week among her friends, family and members of Sacramento’s tight-knit music community.

Pruett, an artist known for her sweet disposition, love of nature and fresh, modern take on folk, died September 2, according to her sister Keely Dorran. She was 32.

In an email to SN&R, Dorran said Pruett took her own life and “died peacefully in her sleep.”

Online, Dorran commemorated Pruett, writing “[I want] to focus on the fact of her continued existence as a spirit.”

Pruett’s lineage had deep Native American roots, with relatives on her father’s side who were Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw, and her sound was often compared to that of both legacy and modern indie folk artists such as Emmylou Harris and Angel Olsen.

She was also an artist, poet and filmmaker. Earlier this year, Pruett released a five-song EP, We Come in All Colors.

Friends will pay tribute to Pruett at Luna’s Cafe as part of its free weekly Poetry Unplugged series. The evening starts at 8 p.m. on September 17 at 1414 16th Street.

—Rachel Leibrock