For those of a certain age — “Summer Breeze” had run up the pop charts to No. 6 in 1972 for Seals and Crofts and then a Top 10 R&B finish in ’74 for the Isley Brothers — this song will always evoke a sense of late-season wistfulness. For everyone else, there’s an intriguing new take from Judith Owen.
Fresh off the well-received new Ebb and Flow project, Owen found herself with an itch to explore the 1970s singer-songwriter era, touching base along the way with Carole King and the Grease soundtrack, among others, for a new EP called In The Summertime. Still, for all of her quite lovely reminiscences, none connects so viscerally as does this ageless gem.
Re-envisioned alongside a darkly emotional trio that includes double bassist Geoff Gascoyne, percussionist Pedro Segundo and cellist Gabriella Swallow, “Summer Breeze” offers the always-expressive Owen a chance to explore the anticipatory melancholy that surrounds these final jasmine-scented days of summer. And to put her very own stamp on it, too.
Fast forward four decades, and the husband is the one at home with food sitting on the table as a busy spouse rushes back for dinner. She takes the vocal into jazz-inflected cadences that only add to its sense of drama. Otherwise, the song retains every bit of its familiar resonance as those same curtains are unfurled by a warm gust. In Owen’s tender embrace, “Summer Breeze” is as transportive as it ever was.