Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen

Emma Frank strives to make songs that offer companionship and wisdom

The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and former Montrealer plays a short run of concerts in Quebec, plus a Feb. 9 show at the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest.

At McGill University, Emma Frank studied literature. “I didn’t love it at all,” she says.

But the New York-based singer-songwriter, 30, now knows her studies ultimately fed into her art. “A lot of my degree was lying in bed and considering a poem, and giving it as much time and quiet as I needed to come up with something interesting.

“My songwriting process is very similar,” she says. “It involves sitting with lyrics for a long time, maybe sitting with a feeling for a long time, and trying to unpack that.”

The lush, airy results can be heard on Frank’s latest album, Ocean Av, to be released Feb. 16, a week after she performs at the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival.

The album features Frank with some top-tier jazz musicians including drummer Jim Black, who will be playing with her in Ottawa, and pianist Aaron Parks, who helped Frank refine and arrange her music.

“Emma’s a remarkable songwriter with a real gift for memorable melodies and lyrics that stay with you,” says the 34-year-old Parks, who has played piano for everyone from Terence Blanchard to Kurt Rosenwinkel to Joshua Redman.

“Her approach to form is unique and compelling, with what sometimes seems like some kind of precisely structured dream logic at work in the way these songs unfold,” says Parks.

“I love making music with Emma. Helping to bring these songs to life just feels really simple and natural.”

Emma Frank plays 

Thursday, Feb. 1, at Casa del Popolo in Montreal with Jim Black, Elias Stemeseder, Martin Heslop, Simon Millerd
Friday, Feb. 2, at Bistro Orford Musique in Orford, Que.
Saturday, Feb. 3, at Maelstrom in Quebec City
Friday, Feb. 9, at La Nouvelle Scène in Ottawa as part of the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival
Sunday, Feb. 18, at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, in New York City 

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