Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Emma Larsson: Sing to the Sky

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Listening to Emma Larsson, it’s hard not to be reminded of the young Nancy Wilson. The Swedish-born, New York-based singer, now three albums into what promises to be an impressive career, mirrors Wilson’s silken delivery and her sly interpretative sass. Yet beneath that elegant surface is a tiger ready to spring, a jazz-savvy adventuress worthy of Abbey Lincoln or Betty Carter. While her previous discs teamed her with a trio of top-drawer Nordic musicians alongside the dynamic Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez, Sing to the Sky significantly amps up her accompaniment with a tight, deeply simpatico quartet: saxophonist Kenneth Whalum III, pianist Shedrick Mitchell, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Billy Drummond.

Larsson continues her pattern of blending original compositions with a smattering of well-chosen covers. She is a superb songwriter. In the accompanying press material, she posits that the album “is about living life with all its ups and downs while keeping your faith through the rocky parts of the road”; hence the heartache of “Before the Rain Comes,” tracing a freshly unraveled relationship, and “Many Moons Ago,” recalling a long-faded romance, offset by the urgent uncertainty of “In a Quandary,” the renewed hope of “Watch My Garden Grow” and the beseeching “I Sing to the Sky.” Two covers and one co-composition are as panoptic, spanning “Here’s to Life,” Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” and the doleful “I Stay Awake,” written with fellow Swede Aron Hidman.

Originally Published