Having long said female jazz singers are a dime a dozen then vocal artist Emma Larsson must be priceless! I often cringe when I open my mail box to find yet another female vocalist that is under the misplaced assumption that she can sing. Another ten track sonic sleeping pill complete with yet another lame knock off of "Skylark" that allows me to long for the relief that death will bring. Granted, taste is subjective but when some vocalists could not find pitch with a road map then this reinforces another long standing belief that God made church choirs, cruise lines and happy hour so "good singers" would have a place to kill time while vocal artists such as Emma Larsson refine their craft even further.
Another musical litmus test that Larsson passes with flying colors is that of a budding lyricist. There are singers that insist that they will "make it" while performing their own material and granted some do. The vast majority of singers with the my way or the highway attitude and minimal talent for backup are more often found behind the counter asking if you would like a shot of wheat grass to go with your purchase. Larsson's ability as a lyricist is on par with her vocal prowess as she pushes the vocal boundaries of modern jazz to a free form and functionality of shifting meters and changing harmonics and with an elegance and subtle swing missing from the more contemporary mass appeal vocal efforts clearly drawn up in the major label board room.
Let It Go opens with "Busy Being Blue" which is a syncopated romp and a straight ahead lyrical sense of purpose that breathes a fresh life into a sub-genre that much like smooth jazz has certainly seen better days. Larsson possesses flawless timing, impeccable phrasing and the innate gift of know when to push forward and pull back thus helping cement that connectivity with her audience. "Let It Go" changes the groove to a more free form vocal approach and while assertive walks a sophisticated tightrope that is as adventurous as is the music. Larsson does a somewhat free form duet with saxophonist Joonatan Rautio to create a dreamy ambiance that permeates a great deal of this recording to create what I refer to as an intriguing sonic depth of field. Shifting meter, changing dynamics but always coming back to a refined swing is the calling card Larsson leaves behind. "Like A Sweet Refrain" is another Larsson tune that sounds twenty years her senior. Larsson is working on an artistic if not emotional maturity level well past her years and does so effortlessly.
Emma Larsson works without a net, she does not need one. A self assured artist backed with a first call band can literally call her own musical shots when the end results are this organic and original. Larrson is the future of modern jazz. Larsson gives the idiom a much needed kick in the pants but not so hard as to push it or the listener over the post bop edge.
A sublime recording. 5 Huge Stars!
Tracks: Busy Being Blue; Jealous Fever; Let It Go; Overtime; In Two Minds; As The Sun Interrupted The Moon; Afro Blue; Like A Sweet Refrain; Irie Butterflies (live).
Personnel: Emma Larsson: vocals; Benito Gonzalez: piano, keyboard; Christian Spering: bass; Jukkis Uotila: drums; Joonatan Rautio: saxophone.