Following Emily King's auspicious Grammy-nominated 2007 debut, East Side Story, the singer and songwriter underwent a period of creative growth that saw her move away from slick R&B toward a more sophisticated indie soul sound, which manifested itself on her self-released sophomore album, 2015's acclaimed The Switch. A later deal with ATO Records continued to showcase her mix of elegant popcraft and deeply nuanced arrangements, as heard on Scenery, released in 2018.
Born in New York City in 1985, King was exposed to music at a young age, often traveling with her musician parents, Kim Kalesti and Marion Cowings, a respected jazz vocal duo. By the time she was 16, she'd left school, earned her GED, and started focusing her efforts on singing, writing, and cutting her teeth in classic Manhattan venues like CBGB and the Bitter End. In 2004, King signed a deal with Sony imprint J Records and made a guest appearance on Nas' album, Street's Disciple, which was produced by famed Bad Boy Entertainment production team the Hitmen. One of the Hitmen, Chucky Thompson, went on to produce King's 2007 debut album, East Side Story, which proved to be a breakout release, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album of the Year. Tours and opening slots for major acts like John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Erykah Badu followed, even as King's J Records tenure ended in 2008. Moving out of the major-label system opened up new creative opportunities, and over the next few years, her music underwent a shift toward a more soulful and sophisticated pop sound. King's classy 2011 EP, Seven, paired her with producer Jeremy Most, who would become her primary collaborator in the years to come. European tours with Maroon 5 and Emeli Sandé followed as King continued to refine her sound with singles like 2012's "Ordinary Heart" and 2014's "The Distance."
In 2015, King finally returned to the album format, releasing her sophomore LP, The Switch, via her own independent Making Music label. Co-produced and written with Most, The Switch cemented her transformation from the slicker mainstream R&B of her debut to the more elegant pop and soul of her later singles. Signing with ATO Records, King returned in 2018 with the singles "Remind Me" and "Look at Me," which led to the release of Scenery early the following year. King and Most recorded the album in a studio they built in the garage of their Catskills home. ~ Timothy Monger