Emily Saunder’s Cotton Skies
A musician devoted to Brazilian music; that’s the best way to describe Emily Saunders, this lovely British singer with an incredibly sweet voice and great appreciation, and understanding, of Brazilian music.
Cotton Skies is Emily Saunders’ debut album and is full of Brazilian grooves; plenty of samba bossa nova with hints of jazz, soul and summer sounds. Instrumentally-focused, Cotton Skies is technically great, with lots of instruments providing the perfect platform for Emily’s beautiful voice. The ﬁrst song of the album is a version of “Ginga Carioca”, a song by Brazil’s multi-instrumentalist genius Hermeto Pascoal.
“Wishing Well” and “Dream” are the next songs of the album and they both have an old-school vibe to them. The slow trumpets and the quiet percussion in “Wishing Well” and the bossa nova melody coming from the piano in “Dream” will deﬁnitely put you in a relaxed mood.
As the album progresses, “Daze” and “Xibaba”, fourth and ﬁfth tracks of the album respectively, show a hint of the 50s, reminding me of the old Brazilian sambas as they are fast paced and seducing… almost inviting you for a little dance. These two songs just literally make you want to move your body.
From the more upbeat 50s sambas, Cotton Skies travels back to the tranquil waters of bossa nova and jazz. That is what I found in “Days”, number six on the album, and “O Sonho”, the following song. Both tracks have lots of piano and vocal skills in a combination that result in an unbelievably soothing sound.
However, it is “Mixing”, track number eight, the highlight of this album. In this song Emily shows all her “Braziliality” as well as her own beautiful understanding of Brazilian music. “Mixing” is a great samba song which mixes a strong bossa nova inﬂuence with the “cheeky” sound of cuica and stunning vocal skills from Emily Saunders.
In “Serendipity”, the second to last song of Cotton Skies, Emily goes back to a more “Billie Holiday” style of jazz. It is a charming soulful song with beautiful lyrics and, again, a passionate singer in Emily Saunders, who nails her vocals. The last track is “Zachary”, another delicious jazzy tune, a perfect closure for an overall easy listening album.
Emily Saunder’s Cotton Skies could be referred to as repetitive or lacking in creativity and ambition, but it is exactly the opposite. The lack of ambition is what makes the album so good. It lives for the deﬁnition of LP as it is a long play album, that needs to be fully listened and appreciated. And even though the summer might be on the wane, Emily Saunder’s stunning debut is so “homie” that it will be able to keep you warm for a bit longer.
Words by Eduardo Pagnoncelli
You can find out more about Emily at emilysaunders.co.uk.