Emma Frank is a Montreal jazz singer that doesn’t choose the easy way to get into someone’s mind. Her complex melodies require the listener’s full attention. Her jazz isn’t easy listening but it’s never aggressive. It’s more aligned with some of the 60’s singer-songwriters that explored a free-er form of music composition. Maybe Joni Mitchell, maybe Karen Young.

The lyrics aren’t too happy. Emma Frank seems to be portraying a relationship that isn’t going too well. The album’s title was giving us a heads-up (although it could have been taken in a positive way) but the song This Time leaves no misunderstanding about the situation.

How I want the situation to be
Not what the situation is
What you’re doing for yourself
And what I’m doing for me
The days when I feel most alone
Collecting our failures
And building them into a boat
 
I’ll take it easy on you this time
Easy on myself and easy on the fighting
Cause lord knows it’s easy to lose love
Honest this time, I won’t keep on fighting
Whether I’m right or wrong, it’s too easy to lose love
 
When each expectation I have
Leads to disappointment
I have to ask
What truths have I been avoiding….

So, no, “The People We’re Becoming” isn’t your ideal cool jazz album for your candle light supper with your loved one. Unless you want to communicate a dark message to your soon-to-become unloved one.

Musically, Emma Frank’s jazz isn’t catchy at all. But it’s still very interesting. Her smooth and very beautiful voice seems to float on various notes like a butterfly in the wind. It’s never where you expect it to go, but it floats, lightly. She also has the power of inspiring the musicians she plays with. They all seem to be in “the zone” when playing with her.

At first, all songs kind of sound the same, but deeper implication show many different angles and directions. On Omma, Frank lets herself go in airy vocals for a while, like they did in the flower power era. This aint no pop jazz à la Diana Krall.

Her band’s latest line up includes Simon Millerd on trumpet, Marc Béland on drums, Isis Giraldo on piano and Gabriel Drolet on bass.

An interesting and complex album for those who aren’t scared of music that brings the heart in a dark place and the head in turmoil of notes and peculiar melodies.

EMMA FRANK
The People We’re Becoming
(The 270sessions, 2015)

-Genre: vocal jazz
-In the same mood as Joni Mitchell

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Listen to videos on the artist’s YouTube channel

Check out her next concerts below

emma frank concerts

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur en chef
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Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 4 500 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Nicolas a publié "Les perles rares et les grands crus de la musique" en janvier 2013, un ouvrage de 1250 pages en deux tomes.