Vincent Neil Emerson Announces New Shooter Jennings’ Produced Album, The Golden Crystal Kingdom
Out November 10th via La Honda Records/RCA Records
Lauded by Rodney Crowell to be a songwriter akin to John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, Vincent Neil Emerson is no stranger to work ethic. His life’s journey has been tumultuous, hard-nosed, and the stuff of songs. It all brings the young Choctaw-Apache man’s journey to the announcement of his new Shooter Jennings-produced record, The Golden Crystal Kingdom—out on November 10 via Emerson’s longtime label home La Honda Records and new partner, RCA Records. With The Golden Crystal Kingdom, Emerson expands his sound, tapping into the storied influence of electrified folk legends like Leon Russell and Link Wray. As with his early work, the diamond-sharp storytelling remains Emerson’s focus under the big and explicit aesthetic of rock and roll.
Today, Emerson continues the La Honda Records x RCA Records partnership with his first single, “Little Wolf’s Invincible Yellow Medicine Paint,” a full-throttle meeting of Western comic book influences inside a Neil Young guitar tuning. “The story was, basically, that a medicine man was tasked with motivating warriors to go into battle—they were going up against a bunch of white men with guns, and they knew they were going to die if they went into battle—and he came up with this special paint, this yellow medicine paint, and said, ‘If you wear this into battle, you’ll be invincible. No arrow can pierce you. No bullet can pierce you,’” Emerson remembers. “It’s an old-West-themed song, it’s not a modern-day story for sure,” says the man who proudly embraces his Choctaw-Apache heritage. “These are indigenous stories, whether or not that old West comic was true.”
Additionally, borrowing a specific tuning amidst a period of Neil Young obsession—D Modal for the musicians out there—Emerson crafted his song with more of an overdriven edge than his previous releases. “I wanted to make this song more than just a country song or a singer-songwriter type of song,” he says. “I wanted this to be a rock and roll song. I wanted it to be loud and big. Shooter got the idea right off the bat. He knew exactly what I was thinking.” Emerson’s deft guitar picking in the first verse gives way to a soaring, guitar-driven chorus and the quickened heartbeat of a kick drum, all sinewed by a pulsing acoustic strum.
To accompany “Little Wolf’s Invincible Yellow Medicine Paint,” Emerson enlisted the help of Native American bareback horse race champion, Sharmaine Weed, to star in a music video. An ethereal glimpse into the dedication and training required to become a champion, the music video, directed by on-the-rise visionary Mike Vanata, was filmed in Wyoming near the Wind River reservation. Lacing a fire-lit Emerson with wide, bucolic plains scenery that— against the song’s lyrics— highlights the human bond with horses, director Vanata revised the typical terms of victory associated with gender. All thanks to the performance from Weed, of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, who was also the focus of 2021 documentary Pure Grit.