It is tough getting by as an Independent artist, just as tough as an Independent critic. Emma Larsson was a welcome surprise in my inbox today. As I have stated before, female vocalists are a dime a dozen so Emma Larsson must be worth a million dollars. Part of the fun as a jazz advocate is taking a step back in time. Unlike most genres going "Back To The Future" in jazz somehow makes things seem right again. This particular 2006 release is well worth a spin and due to the wealth of singers that seem to glut the market an easy release to miss. With the seasoning and character as a veteran twice her age Larsson announces her presence to the jazz world with flair and a panache rarely heard on a debut release.
An organic melodic exploratory opens with the title track "Irie Butterflies." Pristene vocals, the shifting harmonics of pianist Seppo Kantonen and the subtle nuance of beatnik cool brought forth with percussionist Tomi Salesvuo. "Come Rain Or Come Shine" might be a sonic trip wire for some vocalists churning out nothing more than a passable cover in an effort to fill up a release but not here. A slight re-harm with the melody allows Larsson to put her own vocal stamp on the Arlen/Mercer classic with an infectious earthy warmth as Larsson's phrasing and keen sense for melodic interplay with pianist Kantonen turn into a riff on standard making old school new cool. As a lyricist Larsson is working without a net and well beyond her years with "Before I Go." Cutting edge modern jazz vocals bringing that new cool sound to the front with a sensuous exploratory of song and story in a possible auto-biographical presentation for an authenticity that is captivating. Drummer, percussionist Salesvuo matches the syncopated funk filled vocals of Larsson as she is clearly leaving a new yet indelible mark on modern jazz. "There's No You" is a tune from Tom Adair and Hal Hooper that puts the finishing touches of a rare sonic depth of field for a vocalist. Organic minimalism yet subtle with harmonic complexity as Larsson continues her vocal search to lyrical ambiguity into vocal realism. A new sound, a new day and a new voice to continue to hold court in the realm of modern jazz.
The Independent artist needs to go further than talent. Talent will take an artist so far, a little luck combined with even more consistency can level the playing field. The fascinating aspect of Emma Larsson's gift is that while an organic vocal lump of clay, she is molding her talent to fit the idiom and time as she continues her development. In short, Larsson is no vocal one trick pony but a gifted singer/songwriter that can hold her own with any of the major label talent working today.
Tracks: Irie Butterflies; The Moment; Tired Moon; Gone Fishin; Come Rain Or Come Shine; What's On Your Mind?; Stay Awake; Before I Go; Busy Being Blue; There's No You.
Personnel: Emma Larsson: vocals; Seppo Kantonen: piano; Ville Huolman: bass; Tomi Salesvuo: drums, percussion.
A taste of Emma Larsson from You Tube