“Music was just there all of the time,” shares Emilie Mover about her upbringing – nurtured and nourished with melody since before she can remember. Born in Montreal and immediately engulfed in music, it’s simply always been a part of Mover’s life. With the serene Seems So Long, though, the 26-year-old singer/songwriter has reached a new plateau with her craft – one that completely belies her young age.
Her father a renowned saxophone player familiar to jazz clubs on either side of the 49th parallel and overseas, Mover has been singing in that scene professionally for half of her life. “I started accompanying myself on the guitar at about 16,” she recalls, “just because I needed something to sing to. I would play really dumbed-down versions of jazz chords to get by.” With the songs that comprise Seems So Long, however, that inherently simplistic approach to playing benefits her writing in a way that’s much more delicate and endearing than “dumbed-down.”
The album is far more atmospheric and dreamy than those preceding it – namely her full-length debut Good Shake Nice Gloves. With a stripped-down recording style that emphasizes the warm wrap of her sultry vocals, these 11 tracks will elicit images of a smoky basement bistro with torn leather chairs at times and a walk through a dew-soaked part at dawn at others. From the hauntingly gorgeous harmonies of “Mountainside” to the bare-bones “Dance All Night” that needs only an acoustic guitar to foil Mover’s charming lyrics to the sexy, salsa-tinged “Chove Chuva” (sung in Portuguese), Seems So Long incorporates a wide array of influence despite its seemingly simplistic nature.
“The songs on this record are perfectly reflective of how I write on my own,” shares Mover, who doesn’t see this album so much a departure from her earlier pop-influenced output as she does a development. “I’ve always been a fan of the idea of singing … everything,” she says emphatically, noting she’d been exploring a number of different musical styles while composing these songs – from Brazilian sounds to a vast array of old soul recordings – with hints of many making their way into the material. “It’s a good way not to feel stagnant,” she says of her musical mélange.
While Mover composed most of the material herself, she and co-producer Marco DiFelice spent a lot of time working on the arrangements for each song – often just sitting in a room and “going at it,” as she explains, piecing in or altering parts as needed in perfect collaboration, never losing sight of their core. “Sometimes, all you need are the bare bones,” she says of keeping things stripped and transparent. “I was very touchy about not adding to much.”
Sonically speaking, the album’s raw and warm recording quality only serves to enhance the honesty of these songs. “I’m pretty old-school,” says Mover about the throw-back sounds of the album. To gain that quality, some songs were actually tracked to tape, while others featuring additional instrumentation like “Mountainside” and “Leaves On Trees” were recorded live off-the-floor.
As for additional musicians, her father Bob Mover lends his alto sax to “Outta Shape” while other songs feature accompaniment from members of Toronto’s Steamboat to round out the arrangements. Blake Howard and Christine Bougie, current accompanists for her live performances, add their playing to the fold.
Developing how these songs will translate to the stage was exciting to Mover as she’s more than thrilled to share the piece of herself that is Seems So Long with other people. “I love the way these songs are sounding onstage,” she says glowingly. “I made sure to keep that in mind while they were being recorded.” Used to singing on her own, being accompanied live is a different feeling entirely, which she explains as “being a part of something rather than shyly presenting something on your own.”
The velvety-voiced Mover has already had songs synced by giants like Telus and BlackBerry and used in trend-making television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, though she’s likely to surpass those successes with Seems So Long – something more lucid, more mature, more real. “I think we live in a day and age of gluttony and over-stimulation, so it’s nice to have something simple like this,” she shares. “And I think something that simple can still grab someone’s attention if it’s done properly.”