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  • Jonathan Widran

ELLEN EDWARDS, A New York Session

The serendipitous story behind Ellen Edwards’ dynamic breakthrough EP A New York Session begins with her songwriting teacher, legendary country artist Suzy Bogguss, loving the Atlanta based singer-songwriter’s jazz-based material and hooking up her student with her former producer, veteran keyboardist Jason Miles.

Hearing immediate potential in Ellen’s powerfully emotive storytelling and distinctive phrasing, Miles quickly assembled a Big Apple based ensemble of session greats – including trumpeter Randy Brecker, pianist Robbie Kondor, guitarist Jeff Mironov and percussionist Richie Morales – to bring spontaneity, soul and grit to Ellen’s natural expressive gifts and create a live in the studio experience that inspired many mind-blowing “Can this really be happening?” moments.

Making the experience all the more surreal was the fact that less than a year earlier, Ellen was a fresh empty nester looking at an uncertain future. After going back into real estate for a time, a friend suggested that she perform a house concert for an intimate gathering. She immediately warmed to the idea, but having not played in public for 15 years, she spent six months practicing 3-5 hours a day. Putting the show together and writing fresh material gave her a renewed sense of confidence, and she followed that house concert in January 2019 with several local Atlanta arts festival and coffeehouse dates.

Eager to rediscover and hone her long set aside craft, Ellen began enrolling in songwriting workshops in Nashville in 2014, two years before her kids left home. While her connection with Bogguss led her to the chance to record A New York Session and she also studied under famed pop/country songwriter Beth Nielsen-Chapman, the best piece of advice she heard during those years came from Grammy nominated folk singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier.

From the passionately rendered, metaphor filled reflections of the piano and vocal driven focal track “Blue and Green” to the moody, soulful and easy swinging “Let the Fire Grow” (featuring a lush trumpet solo and harmony lines by Randy Brecker), the songs on A New York Session perfectly reflect these more intimate, heart on the sleeve sensibilities. “Blue and Green” touched on her grief of letting go of her kids and her long-held identity as a mom, with acceptance of her new life at the end.

“Let the Fire Grow” taps into her desire to unleash her full creativity as an artist and speak her mind boldly. The funk-pop-jazz influenced “Queens Bridge” chronicles a clever conversation with herself, trying to push away her years of the lies of self-criticism and take new chances. Rounding out the set are the gospel/blues tinged ballad “Love’s On My Side” and the hypnotic and infectious soul-jazz gem “Over There,” a song about having the vision and courage to move forward.

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