Ember Schrag is a singer and guitarist from western Nebraska. Hailed as "distinctive and free of affect or artifice" by the A.V. Club, her Great-Plains-gothic style "lands somewhere between Scout Niblett and Karen Dalton, writing about land and space and hope and despair" (Nightlight).

She was adopted as a child and raised by militant Christians. Enticed from the Lord's army by a library copy of A Coney Island of the Mind, she left home at 17 with a glove box stuffed with illicit "secular music" cassettes. She progressed from gigs at Missouri’s Magic Bean, Nebraskan blues bars and Kansas house parties to a series of CD-R’s and DIY national tours, then two criticially acclaimed albums.

A Cruel, Cruel Woman was released on Lone Prairie Records in 2009. This well-received debut features musical guests local to Lincoln, NE, a psychedelic take on A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a warm, appealing twang. The album documents Schrag's former long-running duo with Nebraska guitarist Günter Voelker (Jack Hotel).

That same year, she founded Clawfoot House, a venue and arts community in Lincoln. Schrag's experience as a show promoter for experimental musicians touring on a shoe-string broadened her musical horizons further, contributing to the remarkable arrangements on her second album, The Sewing Room.

The forces behind Philadelphia labels Edible Onion and Single Girl, Married Girl were entranced by Schrag's spare 2010 EP, a solo recording called Jephthah's Daughter (Eh?). They banded together to release The Sewing Room in 2012. Every sound is carefully crafted, and songs that were already perfectly balanced as solo guitar-and-voice pieces shimmer with their added sonic layers. Guests include Amy Denio, P.G. Six, Alex McManus (The Bruces, Lambchop, Vic Chesnutt), Philip Gayle, and Jonah Sirota of The Chiara Quartet.

Schrag now lives in New York and is hard at work on her third record. Her current band includes guitarist Bob Bannister, bassist Debby Schwartz, and Schrag's longtime collaborator, Gary Foster, on drums, with occasional guests Susan Alcorn (pedal steel) and Concetta Abbate (violin).


"Ember Schrag captures lightning in a bottle." - Foxy Digitalis

"She’s a nimble guitarist, a gripping storyteller, clever lyricist and a strong, dynamic singer with a direct, clear, matter-of-fact voice. She originally hails from Nebraska and now makes New York her home. And while she’s far from unknown in the dark folk demimonde, her writing transcends that genre: she’s one of the most individualistic and interesting songwriters in any style of music." - New York Music Daily

"Unlike many modern artists who try way too hard to sound unique or different, Schrag seems content to just let the music flow from her veins. In a world full of throwaway artists, this young lady comes across sounding like the real thing." - babysue on A Cruel, Cruel Woman

A voice so precise and inviting that you can't help but be pulled into her musical obvious pivotal high point of what is certain to be a long and intriguing career. The lyrics in these songs are exceptional." - babysue on The Sewing Room

"Her songs are poetic, complex and deep, and may have you wondering why you hadn't heard of her sooner. Some of us at FMU have the same question!" - Jeffrey Davison, WFMU

"This is not your standard subject matter but, then again, these are no standard folk songs." - Whisperin' and Hollerin'

"Hints of the Southern Gothic milieu of Flannery O’Connor." - The Sound Projector

"Subtle, subdued acoustic guitar ballads soaked in character and a perpetually unsettling sense of mystery.” - Dead Angel on Jephthah's Daughter

"Reminds me a lot of the second Violent Femmes album, Hallowed Ground, in its combination of folk and avant-garde sounds and themes revolving around spirituality and its place in the modern world..this is how good albums used to be made before the music industry started thinking how artists look is more important than how they sound."
- Dead Angel on The Sewing Room

"I feel like we just won a contest to have Ember Schrag and band play in our living room. I've known and loved this lady and her music for a while now but she's gone next level. Gram Parsons crosses the River Styx and challenges an Old Testament god with some electric guitars and shredding violin. See this woman next time she comes through your town." - Gillian Chadwick (Ex Reverie)

"You won’t want to miss Ember Schrag, an underworldly chanteuse whose twisted roots music is somehow peculiar and comforting at the same time. Exactly who you want on stage when it’s time to sing down the dusk." - Philadelphia City Paper

"If you must buy only one album this year that has both mandolin and atonal homemade instruments made out of odd pieces of metal on it, make it this one." - Centipede Famer on The Sewing Room

"This is one superb CD." - The Lincoln Journal Star on The Sewing Room

"A song so good it can only be described in clichés about angels and airplanes and weeping clouds." - Stephen Elliott on "I Ain't A Prophet"

"A phenomenal talent that will brighten my whole day, and many more days to come."

- Monsieur Délire

"Do not miss this unique, haunting, unforgettable singer." - David Moscovich, Louffa Press

Live Reviews, Previews and Musings:

Another Folk-Fueled, All-Star Concert
by Elisabeth Joyce
WXPN The Key

On Singing From The Bottom of A Well
by Shaun Brady
Philadelphia City Paper

Concert Under the Stars

by Patrick Rapa
Philadelphia City Paper

Kinda Fascinating
The Providence Phoenix

Purification of the Calmdome
by Jordy Clements

A Night of Folk at Whitehaus
by Kristin Toussaint
Boston University Quad

What That Says About Lincoln Nebraska
by Stephen Elliott
The Rumpus

Clawfoot House Show
by Katie Lechler
Star City Blog

Two Solitudes
Ember's Tour Blog
the whole USA, 2010

For album reviews, see Releases