Emilia Dahlin Sextet
… Green Things to Grow
After spending the first decade of this millennium as a working musician, releasing four LPs and touring nationally — while cementing her status as the folksinger most likely to bust out an acrobatic scat solo over a Latin jazz groove — Emilia Dahlin took the next 10 years off, volunteering around the world, exploring music’s potential to transcend human differences, and starting a family (and a garden) at her Gorham homestead. In January, Dahlin released her first new album in 11 years, … Green Things to Grow. Recorded live at a pop-up event on Portland’s waterfront last fall, this is a doggedly positive statement about the good that can happen when people eat together, talk together and sing together. Dahlin’s songs repeatedly return to the concept of sanctuary — gardens, quiet midnights and trusted loved ones all get evocative odes. “This is the balm to soothe the worried soul / This is the medicine you need to make it through,” she sings on “The Wee Hours.” The arrangements, rooted in folk and light jazz, with a touch of Latin flavor, are less adventurous than the genre-bending eclecticism of 2009’s Rattle Them Bones. However, the closer, “Blue Balloon,” is a stunning Great American Songbook-style ballad buoyed by a trio of backup vocalists. It’s an apt ending to this auspicious comeback album, a glimpse of the harmony Dahlin wants for all of us.