Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rebecka Larsdotter Feathers & Concrete 2012

"Born to sing"...

A tad cliche but in the case of Rebecka Larsdotter a bit autobiographical as well. Born and raised in Sweden this rising star wrote her first song at the age of 2 and by 2002 had earned a Master's Degree in Music program at Orebro and Malmo University of Music. Advanced degrees are most impressive but Larsdotter is more than just a singer. This breathtaking debut release showcases Larsdotter's innate gift to move from singer to vocalist to storyteller all while transcending genre for an eclectic offering that displays a magnificent grasp of the connectivity with an audience required to move her to the front of the pack when it comes to emerging young talent.

The naked city is full of singer/songwriters and many are found asking if you would like a shot of wheat grass to go with your order. Larsdotter now calls New York home yet on Feathers & Concrete finds herself surrounded with some of the top young jazz players working the L.A. scene. A somewhat personal release emphasizing the yin and yang of life coupled with influences such as Joni Mitchell and Bjork puts Larsdotter on the cutting edge of where modern vocal jazz is heading. Having reviewed at least twenty five female vocalists this year, my natural cynicism kicked into overdrive upon receipt of this release. To my surprise and delight Feathers & Concrete is 9 well constructed originals each a golden thread woven into a beautiful song cycle by an artist that sidesteps the easy pitfalls of self indulgence by simply keeping it real. This release goes in the memorable pile without hesitation.

Feathers & Concrete is captivating throughout with shifting harmonics and a steady lyrical sense of purpose kicking off with the opening tune "System Overload." Guitarist Charles Altura turns in a more fusion oriented solo while Larsdotter conducts a sonic exploratory with the syncopated texture of her lyrics. "Pearl Of Glass" is a wistful and slightly melancholy ballad with an organic intimacy that is warm yet oddly mysterious. Some magnificent keyboard work from Vardan Ovespian adds depth and texture and helps push this tune over the top. A captivating tune defying genre and the type of tune if not entire release that drives critics and record executive nuts because the one size fits all approach simply does not apply here. "Strangers In The Garden" is another case of Larsdotter coloring outside the vocal lines as the vibes of Nick Mancini add a infectious earthy quality in presentation.

Feathers & Concrete works well thanks to a first call band and the ability to take some musical risks. Far more than just another pretty face Larsdotter takes a more alternative approach as opposed to some of the more prefabricated releases with the same tired standards that have been done to death and often not well. One more lame version of "Skylark" and you can look for me in the length of rope and rickety stool isle at the local Home Depot. Thankfully Larsdotter saves me the trip with an incredibly versatile display of a promising vocal talent in the making.

Tracks: System Overload; Wise One; Friday Sweep; Pearl Of Glass; Verkligheten Ar En Drom; Cracks; Strangers In The Garden; Waiting On The Wind; System Overload/Pimpy's Brew (extended version).

Personnel: Rebecka Larsdotter: vocals; Rusian Sirota: keyboards; Vardan Ovespian: keyboards; Charles Altura: guitar; J.P. Maramba: upright bass; Hadrien Feraud: electric bass; Chris Coleman: drums; Tony Austin: drums; Nick Mancini: vibes; Zane Musa: saxophone.

Special Thanks to Michael Bloom of  Michael Bloom Media Relations!

"Waiting On The Wind" via You Tube