About Risa Branch
Within the life of New York-based vocalist Risa Branch, her recently-completed sophomore album I Thought About You signifies a meaningful turning point. After years of refining her chops and musical sensitivity within the vibrant independent music scene of Vancouver, British Columbia, Risa’s new album demonstrates that she is a woman ready to embrace, with her own original flair, the intimacy and dynamism for which vocal jazz is best known. While those who have followed Risa’s musical emergence will remember the futuristic R&B and soul sounds of her solo debut, I Thought About You is the expression of a more confident artist, one whose past experiences have prepared her to join the jazz idiom with sincerity, authenticity and sophistication.
Though technically Risa’s jazz debut, I Thought About You represents a return to her roots through full immersion into the textures and feeling of the genre. The warmth and honesty of Risa’s lyrical approach and the deep humanity she exposes when interpreting jazz standards are each owed, perhaps, to the bluesy soulfulness of Dallas, Texas—the city that raised her. In a direct and undeniable way, Risa’s southern roots taught her how to sing, how to feel and express the emotional power of her instrument. And no matter the eclectic, genre-bending and sometimes classic performances of her musical past, Risa’s vocal purity and her unique timbre—containing within it sweetness and soul in equal measure—have always managed to remind listeners of vintage eras of American jazz mastery. It is no mistake that her voice is often compared to such icons as Billie Holliday and Nina Simone, artists whose candor and distinctness-of-voice blazed the path that Risa sees herself walking in today.
Through a combination of originals and standards, and with interpretations of varying styles belonging to the jazz and blues veins, Risa’s I Thought About You welcomes listeners into the comfort, vibrancy and ingenuity of a musical space that is both timeless and contemporary. Substantially crowdfunded by fans, friends and admirers across North America, the album’s completion is a bicoastal achievement that Risa and her legion of supporters share with a binational cadre of musicians and engineers who brought the record together. I Thought About You bears the markers of Vancouver, Canada, where the album was recorded, as well as New York City, where it was completed, and it features contributions from accomplished Canadian saxophonist, producer and jazz impresario Cory Weeds, as well as 10-time Grammy Award winning American mixer Jay Newland. Remarkably inspired by a tradition of jazz and blues music to which she surely belongs, it is clear, within minutes of hearing I Thought About You, that musically, Risa Branch is home.