The sun rose this morning and poked through the mist in the backyard. Emily Saxe’s Keeping You in Mind found itself in heavy rotation again and worked a little like breakfast for the soul. The album’s sweetness and down-home feel gives it a tender quality, making it ideal for watching the day unfold.
Saxe issued her three previous albums while living in Thailand, but she’s returned home to America to release her fourth recording. She has seen two of her albums make the jazz Top 10 in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Thailand. She performed at the Sydney Opera House. For some reason, though, Emily Saxe seems a lot more suited to my breakfast table.
Listening to Saxe sing these songs is like talking to an old friend over coffee. Her conversational style brings new life to old favourites, making the songs her very own. Saxe proves her range with efficiency, too. She’s able to belt out an old-style spiritual that was sung by Judy Garland (“Get Happy”) and move seamlessly into a Bacharach tune (“Walk On By”) without losing the flow of the conversation.
Emily hooked up with bassist-producer David Piltch for Keeping You in Mind. The connection led to a new sound for the new album, as Piltch had Saxe throw out the piano and rely on a more guitar-driven sound. Emily grew up playing the piano, her mother played the piano, and her grandfather played the piano, so it was a little like getting rid of an old friend. Nevertheless, the guitar-based arrangements work wonders and the album sounds reflective and intimate.
As I’m pouring another cup of coffee (seems like I’m always doing that), Saxe embarks on the Rodgers and Hart tune “He Was Too Good To Me.” The arrangement is sparse, but her easy style helps bring the sad song home to roost. As in one of the best songs on the album, “Last Day of Summer,” it’s Saxe’s command over the vocals that make the album what it is. The musical arrangements are nice, sure, but without Emily Saxe at the wheel, this would be just another folksy Americana record.
Keeping You in Mind is a gentle album, perfect for introspection or light conversation. The musical arrangements mesh well with Saxe’s voice to make an understated and calming record. As I drain the last cup (before the next one), I wave goodbye to Emily Saxe and feel like I’ve made a new friend.