“The place is spooky and full of ghosts,” says Emily Duff of the studio where she cut her new album, Maybe in the Morning. That seems about right, considering that the New York City singer/songwriter came to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME Studios, the storied soul hub where Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and countless others cut classic sides in the R&B golden age of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“If you’re an insane music lover and worshipper of that era like I am,” Duff says, “you walk in the door and you’re like, ‘Fuck, I’m home.’ Every time I walked through that door I got the chills. You’re with people who basically built the whole structure that is your church of music, and you’re in that room. You can’t stop smiling, My face hurt from smiling so much.”
But the path that led Duff to that musical mecca was far from straightforward. She grew up on Long Island, on a steady diet of singer/songwriter and roots music. “Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, those were the records we listened to,” she remembers. “And then there was The Partridge Family and Sonny & Cher, because I was a child of television. And I was heavily into the whole soul thing—I loved Al Green and Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.”