Emmett Tinley was born in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in Co. Wicklow in Ireland. Through the 1990s he fronted the critically acclaimed Irish band The Prayer Boat, who released two albums and a number of EPs in that time. The band took a break in 2000 and Emmett moved to Amsterdam to work on his first solo album. By the end of the year he was signed by Craig Kallman to Atlantic Records in New York. Atlantic re-released The Prayer Boat's final album, 'Polichinelle', in the US in March 2001 and Emmett embarked on three solo tours in support of it.
Emmett then returned to Amsterdam to focus on writing for his solo album and in early 2002 Australian producer Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Beth Orton, PJ Harvey) was brought in to produce. The album, ‘Attic Faith’, was recorded in New York in March 2003 with a band consisting mainly of jazz musicians from Denmark (Martin Spure on bass, Nikolaj Bundvig on drums and Allin Bang on keyboards) as well as Dutch guitarist Marijn Slager (from the rock band Nuff Said). Following repeated delays Attic Faith was eventually licensed to Independent Records in Ireland and released in April 2005 to rave reviews and a first-ever chart position at 28.
Attic Faith went on to be nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Best Irish Album of 2005. The Irish Independent called it “…a work of great quality far removed from the morose ramblings of many other singer songwriters.” Hotpress hailed it as “….one of the most stunningly beautiful albums you're likely to hear all year”, “.. the most glorious, heartfelt paeans to loves lost, loves left behind and loves that never really existed in the first place except in your wildest imaginings”, and “…a gorgeously fragile, deliciously delicate album to make you fall in love with sad songs again.” The Irish Times praised it as “Up there with the albums of Rufus Wainwright or Jeff Buckley. Truly sublime.”
In 2009 Tinley signed a new record deal with Mass Market Recordings, a Dutch label based in The Hague, in order to release a 10th anniversary edition of Polichinelle. The deal eventually led to the recording of a second solo album, Emmett Tinley. It was recorded in both Los Angeles and Denmark and was released in October 2011 in Benelux, Ireland and the US to excellent reviews.
Since 2013 Emmett has also been focused on writing songs for a new music theatre production from Los Angeles-based Overtone Industries entitled 'ICELAND' in collaboration with artistic director O-Lan Jones. The first act premiered at the New Original Works festival at REDCAT in Los Angeles in July 2014. A concert reading of the production premiered at the Ford Amphitheatre in October 2016, with Emmett also making his stage acting debut in the leading male protagonist role. A second concert reading of ‘ICELAND’ took place at the Boston Court in Pasadena in November 2018. ICELAND premieres at La MaMa in New York on 24th March, 2023.
Emmett is currently working on a new solo album, with plans to release new tracks in 2023.