Lisa Ekdahl / Peter Nordahl Trio

When Did You Leave Heaven

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A major pop star in Scandinavia, Lisa Ekdahl was 24 when she attempted to sing straight-ahead jazz on the consistently weak When Did You Leave Heaven, which was her first release in the U.S. and her first all-English recording. The Swedish singer's thin, girlish, mousy voice might work on bubblegum pop, but it's hardly appropriate for standards like "Cry Me a River" and "I'm a Fool to Want You." Ekdahl tries to emulate Billie Holiday, although the disc ends up sounding more like Paula Abdul with a Scandinavian accent making an ill-advised attempt at acoustic jazz. Especially embarrassing is her version of "Lush Life" -- this is a song that even 35-year-old singers shy away from because they don't feel they've done enough living, and Ekdahl gives no indication that she has the type of depth needed to sing this Billy Strayhorn classic convincingly. As many gifted jazz singers as Sweden had in the late 1990s (including Jeanette Lindström and Lina Nyberg), it's most regrettable that RCA Victor chose to record someone who should have stuck to commercial pop.

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