44-year-old singer/songwriter Emerson Hart, originally from Washington, PA, has been through a lot in his 15+ years in the music industry, from Tonic‘s mainstream success with 1997’s “If You Could Only See” and album Lemon Parade to co-writing the theme to NBC’s American Dreams and creating his own album just a few years ago. However, it’s been a while since anything new from him or his band has popped up on my radar, and considering his past history on my top 40 chart, his return has been highly anticipated for the last four years or so. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Hart’s first solo album, Cigarettes and Gasoline, was issued on Manhattan Records back in the summer of 2007. It was huge for me during my senior year of high school. The album placed two consecutive #1 singles on my chart: “If You’re Gonna Leave” (eight weeks) and “I Wish The Best For You” (four weeks, 2008.) “Leave” would also rank as the #1 song on my Top 100 of 2007, while “Wish” ended up in 5th for 2008. It was the start of a huge success story for the singer on my survey, though radio wasn’t playing as nicely; “Leave” peaked at #19 on Hot AC radio, while “Wish” stalled out in the 20’s.
In 2010, a reformed Tonic issued a self-titled album on 429 Records; lead single “Release Me” (with that kind of title, it was bound to be released) rose to #7 on my top 40 in the summer of that year, while it received minimal Hot AC airplay once again. No other singles were serviced, and at the point, Hart and the band disappeared from the charts. They still played live, but I was always curious about when a new band or solo single would see the light of day. Well, it’s finally here.
“The Best That I Can Give” leads off Hart’s second solo album, Beauty In Disrepair, and goes to the Hot AC airwaves on February 3 via his new label BMG. During a premiere with USA Today last week, Hart stated the song was inspired by a relationship with his now wife that almost turned sour given his past baggage going into it. He says, “That was the song I wrote when I almost blew it — but I didn’t.” Luckily enough, he didn’t blow the song either; it’s a fantastic and sincere tune.
Co-written by David Hodges, “Best” sees Hart embrace a pop-driven sound with a hint of rock, similar to the direction of his last album. The performer sings, “Back when we started before the storm came/I gave you sometimes, you needed always/Thought we were fine, but you saw it first/Now, I can give you the life you deserve.” It’s pretty touching and it certainly means a lot to him personally. At the same time, it’s also pleasant melodically and will likely pick up a lot of support from his and his band’s base. Plus, it may be just worthy enough for a debut on my personal chart this weekend.
Be on the lookout for Beauty In Disrepair later this Spring (a date has yet to be announced.) Meanwhile, Hart’s current solo tour continues through mid-February before a string of date with Tonic from later that month into March. Also, you’ll find my latest top 40 listing up on Sunday morning where you can see if “The Best That I Can Give” gives the chart life with its entrance. I think that would be “best”, wouldn’t you? Emerson Hart has still got it — welcome back, sir.