Rebecka Larsdotter - Whirlwind
2016 Losen Records LOS 155-2
What now seems an age ago, I had the particularly happy duty of reviewing Rebecka's first LP 'Feathers and Concrete,' but in fact that was only in 2011 - you may wish to [re]visit that essay here .
At that time Rebecka was operating out of her native Sweden and I rather disparagingly suggested that by releasing the CD on the somewhat esoteric eurojazz label PROPHONE, although recorded in LA, the chances of it being a worldwide smash were somewhat limited - which was a shame because I felt her voice and song-writing deserved a much wider audience than she was likely to get.
In the intervening years, it seems that Rebecka has, actually done rather well and transferred her centre of operation to New York City and changed label to Losen Records. She still returns to her Scandinavian forest for the purpose of writing her music. Now, this month of May - time for spring flowers to blossom - she has released her new album 'Whirlwind' whichI hope will blossom for her giving her the wider acclaim that I think she so richly deserves.
I also previously suggested that Reebecka fits more into the canon created by singer-songwriters such as Carole King than that of the usual conventional jazz scene. I very much stand by that statement on hearing the new material and by her own admission she references Joni Mitchell in her writing. And although she has carried several of the musicians from the 1st album forward to this one, and their pedigrees are largely working with jazzers, names such as Sting and Chaka Khan also pop up among them. I feel the crossover with the soft-rock and folk genres is so strong that it would serve Rebecka well to get her publicist to make rather more of the fact - unless of course she's happy to remain in what seems to me something of a ghetto.
The above is very much reflected in the song-writing which I feel is largely beyond the realm of lyrics normally associated with Jazz. Take Track 1o 'Hmm' for instance - this would happily fit onto a Joni Mitchell album of the 'Blue' era which most people would say was well ahead of the time when Joni was claiming to be a Jazz artist [albeit in the same way as Leonard Cohen might!]
On the other hand, Track 11 'My Shining Hour' does contain a bit of scat-ty singing and, throughout the album the very good instrumentation is very much into the 'lounge' style.I must say however I never felt I was being hit by the whirlwind promised by the record's title - perhaps whirlwinds have a very gentle nature it NYC -it might better been entitled 'Eddy'!
Anyway, perhaps I'm making too much of this issue of genre - I'm just concerned that knowledge of her excellent work should be more universally acknowledged. However, whatever the general consensus on where the record belongs, it needs to be said that Rebecka is an excellent artist and her second album shows a good natural progression beyond her first and is deserving of as wide a hearing as possible.