• Jennifer Painter
  • Emilie Weibel

The Swiss singer Emilie Weibel moved to New York in 2006, lured by the city’s potent jazz scene to further her education. She first studied with the excellent trumpeter Ralph Alessi at his School for Improvisational Music before enrolling at the City College of New York. I don’t know what her sound and practice was like back then, but her aesthetic these days is impressively broad, and on her recent solo debut album, Omoo (Inner Circle Music), jazz informs rather than defines her work. She’s become an adept at making small, intimate sounds aided by electronics and various small percussion instruments, sweetening her seductive arrangements with music box and keyboard textures. On some tracks she exercises a kind of postmodern vocalese, preserving the melody of a classic jazz tune like Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” but writing her own lyrics in English and French and devising compelling arrangements using looped vocal clicks and wordless harmonies. There’s no missing the similarities to the wildly inventive French singer Camille—or to the distinctive vibe of Bjork and Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards)—but Weibel lays claim to her own approach here. For today’s 12 O’Clock Track you can check out the album’s most seductive jam, an original piece called “Paola” that rides along on a slow, smoldering groove with singing that imparts just enough grit and raw sensuality to keep me leaning toward my speakers, waiting for the tinder to erupt—instead it only tantalizes.