Lisa Ekdahl

Back To Earth

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At first, Lisa Ekdahl's squeaky, girlish voice may seem inappropriate for the pop standards she has chosen to make her trade, but given some time, her voice and laid-back style become endearing. True, she occasionally seems mannered and borrows heavily from her inspirations (most notably Billie Holiday), but she shows signs of developing her own style throughout her second American album, Back to Earth. Like its predecessor, When Did You Leave Heaven, Back to Earth was recorded with the Peter Nordahl Trio and has a charming mellow vibe. Nordahl has an elegant turn of phrase and his rhythm section -- drummer Ronnie Gardiner and bassist Patrik Boman -- has a light touch that keeps the focus on Ekdahl. It is true that her voice may strike some listeners as odd, but it's girlish, not thin, which means she can nail the emotions of the songs. There may be a few missteps here and there, but she delivers ballads ("What Is This Thing Called Love?," "The Laziest Gal in Town," "Now or Never") as well as swing ("Down with Love," "I Get a Kick Out of You"). Yes, the selections are a little predictable and Ekdahl is a bit of an acquired taste, but ultimately, Back to Earth is quite charming.

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