By Herb Boyd | Published January 2020
Need a calming balm after a long day? A musical refuge from the bombardment of chaos and mayhem? Then allow Emma Frank to soothe you with a pleasant sonic massage, one that emanates from every track on Come Back. There’s an unchanging meditative groove here that varies little in tempo, while her voice probes an assortment of human conditions. Her work is particularly precise, in perfect sync with Aaron Parks’ piano.
“Before You Go Away” exudes yearning and regret, and brings to mind a soulful blend of Buffy Sainte-Marie and Joni Mitchell. Frank plumbs even deeper on “I Thought,” thinking she’s to blame for the changes we all experience. “Two Hours” brings more serenity, and Frank settles into a stream of solitude with a haunting refrain that edges closer and closer to a sentimental mood. With “Dream Team” comes a scat-like wordlessness that intercepts any possibility of boredom, and Frank sparks Parks, the two then moving smoothly as one, a dauntless duo. It’s a wonderful sound when her words joyously collide with his notes, blending almost indiscernibly.
One wish: The lingering tranquility she has perfected here should be set aside somewhat, allowing more of that robust quality she possesses to shine through. In short, a little less folk and a little more funk.
Frank clearly has mastered the ballad, burnishing her lyrics with touches of literary panache. Balance this propensity with a few uptempo tracks and she’ll continue her climb to the top, no matter the genre.
Come Back: I Thought; Either Way; Two Hours; Sometimes; Promises; Dream Team; See You; Lilac; Before You Go Away. (31:35)
Personnel: Emma Frank, vocals; Aaron Parks, piano, synthesizer; Tommy Crane, drums; Zack Lober, bass; Franky Rousseau, guitar, synthesizer; Simon Millerd, trumpet (6); Chieh-Fan, viola, violin (1, 3); Pedro Barquinha, guitar, bass, percussion, synthesizer (9).