One of the key reasons why a song like “Guess Who I Saw Today” has endured in the more than 70 years since it was first written is because of its intimate narrative feel. So, while the bigger productions of the song are usually great, it’s the quieter versions of it that truly capture its essence. Samara Joy did the song justice with her original take from her recent album Linger Awhile. However, she strips it down even further alongside frequent collaborator Gerald Clayton on a newly released duo version of the standard.
Gerald’s piano playing is simple but emotive. He doesn’t dally in too many frills or adornments, instead opting to capture the emotional twists and turns of the lyrics in his own playing. It sets the tone for Samara’s vocal choices, which differ from her original studio take. She elongates some notes, deepens others and even clips them in a few places, which adds a beautiful tension. Of course, she keeps that final, dazzling high note that ends the piece. It stabs accusatorily into the quiet arrangement and allows the singer to show that she isn’t just about the rich, rounded lows in her register.
A listener really can’t go wrong with any of the takes that Samara Joy brings to this song. However, this latest version just might be our favorite. Judge for yourself when you press play below.