Listen for a few moments to the arresting vocals and haunting indie-folk sound of Amberly Chalberg, and you'll likely hear something more below the surface—something that speaks from the deep regions of the soul. Indeed, it's apparent from the songs on her debut EP There Will Come a Day that this emerging singer-songwriter is already drawing from some wells of emotion that more seasoned artists often fail to reach.
In truth, Amberly's current artistic journey began in those deeper places, stemming from a desire to return to her musical roots, and ultimately fueled by family crisis. Born and raised in Montana, musical from an early age, she grew up playing piano and singing in school choirs—but as so often happens, those pastimes fell by the wayside as she made her way into adulthood.
But the passion never went away. After finishing college, getting married and moving to Denver, Colorado, Amberly soon felt the tug to return to music. Not having room in their home for a piano, her husband Kit bought her a Gibson L-200 guitar. Before long, she was writing songs, drawing inspiration from her life, her family and her childhood to fuel her lyrics.
Then, crisis struck: on Thanksgiving 2013, Amberly's father was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Amberly recalls a moment of truth when she tried to keep him company during his treatment by playing her music for him.
"He doesn't hear very well," she says. "I tried to play him some of my songs, and he was sitting there trying to listen, but couldn't hear the words. a lot of the songs are about him, about our family, about my childhood and growing up in Montana…A lot of this was about him. It was important that he hear these songs."
That experience, she says, was what "lit the fire," sparking an urgency to record her songs. "This EP was something special for my parents and, especially to keep my dad’s spirits high in a time that was really difficult," says Amberly.
Those recordings, beginning mainly as a personal project, were the seed of what would eventually become Amberly's EP, There Will Come a Day. Recorded and mixed by Aaron Youngberg of Swingfingers Studios in Ft. Collins, CO, the six-song project features many of Amberly's friends within the tight-knit Denver music scene, including Jon Powers, Andy Palmer, Tage Plantell, Aaron McCloskey, John Macy, Andrew Bonnis, Christine King, Phil Norman and Dave Preston. The end result is a solid, well-performed collection of songs that strike a near-perfect balance between intensely personal and highly accessible—at different times heartwarming and heartbreaking, and at all times honest, authentic and surprisingly mature.
As to her evolving sound, which incorporates elements of country, folk and rock, Amberly comes across as both timeless and current, drawing heavily on the past while facing squarely forward, citing influences that range from icons like Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson to modern greats like Brandi Carlile and Gregory Alan Isakov. "I listen to a lot of artists that I know that I'll never be," she says. "People I can totally admire [who] have this God-given talent that I'll never reach."
With her father now on the mend, a renewed passion for her art, and a well-crafted debut EP scheduled for a fall 2015 release, Amberly Chalberg now stands poised to reach a much broader audience with an impressive early collection of songs that speak of love, loss, family, heartbreak and hope—songs born from trial, speaking from the deep places, and destined to resonate just as deeply with many fans to come.
Listen closely, and you'll hear it.