CD Review: Layla Zoe ~ Live At Spirit 66



Layla Zoe
Live At Spirit 66
Cable Cars Records


Layla Zoe, live on stage is an act to enjoy and the music and atmosphere absorbs every emotion and spits them back out! This has been achieved in this recording at a favourite venue of hers Route 66, on this double CD mimicking the shape of a two act show, we can take a breath and refresh our glasses, as the combination of the firebird’s vocals with its rough edge, soulful delivery and a range that hits the spot from the bottom to the top. Layla has the freedom to perform with a fluid and dynamic style thanks to her band of trusted men that makes the music burn and drive the lyrics to the top line. Scintillating guitar work from Jan Laacks has the power to balance the vocals and at the same time be gentle and the control on Green Eyed Lover is a perfect example of this. The rhythm section throughout has the solid foundation that zings with skill and delivery thanks to Gregor Sonnenberg on bass and drumming courtesy of Hardy Fischotter. This recording is full of energy and verve and the opening track I’ve Been Down certainly would warm up the atmosphere in any club or festival; the rawness of her voice and the driving relentless beat of the band gives this blues number a heavy feel without ever losing its shape. This is a show that will bring you the full variety of every shade of the electric blues. The drumming intro of I Choose You sets the tempo for this number and the beat is relentless and the guitar playing with its magical licks is sublime but the winner every time is the voice; her interpretation of every song is sometimes subtle, sometimes raw emotion but always full of personal honesty. The time frame is set before In Her Mother’s House as she is off to Canada to her Mother’s House for Christmas, there is only hothouse air in the venue however cold it maybe outside; this is the feeling of how special it is to be home. A melodic rocky blues number that just oozes the warmth of being home safe and secure in a place you can be yourself.
The second act or disc two opens with the title track from her last album The Lily, a beautiful track in the studio but live has a gentle opening from the sticks, the guitar has an ethereal feel, the beat picks up and Layla joins in now words are needed for that shiver music sends down your spine when it hits that spot and then picking up the lyrics delivered as a prayer every word laden with emotions gained through life’s experience, a special number live, promising that the second CD is as powerful as the first. The guitar opening of Why You So Afraid is spellbinding full of controlled rawness and matches the tone set by Layla. Jan and her work together in a true partnership and the backing vocals from Jan & Gregor really underline the chorus line. The longest track on the album is one that Layla owns on the stage It’s A Man’s World; sit back, close your eyes and let the music swallow you for the musical journey you are being carried on over the next twenty minutes, what a performance from Layla and her band. The timing is astounding and the change in tempo, sound levels and emphasis throughout makes this track very special; we hear her voice as an echo and full on this is a track that allows everyone to shine bright in the shadow of the firebird. The closing track has Layla sing a capella with a powerful, gospel inspired version of The Beatles Let It Be, as the notes die away applause is spontaneous Layla thanks everyone and with a goodnight the venue falls silent truly catching the closing moments of a great concert.

Throughout the double album we hear Layla’s spoken voice with tales behind many of the tracks, as with any live event you get to know the person as well as the music. The selection of tracks for the recorded show is a great mix with a selection of tracks from The Lily interspersed with tracks from earlier albums and those she loves to perform live. This is a live recorded album that has a purpose not just the re-hashing of previously recorded material. And as ever the live sound has that extra tension and shape that is what makes live music so wonderful.
As Layla herself says on the cover “Where music takes us is a spiritual place”; so very true and encapsulates the feeling of this mighty fine live album that delivers the essence of Layla and her band. The only negative is a video would have been a bonus to see the firebird in action on stage as well as hearing the mighty fine music.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch


Track Listing
1. I’ve Been Down
2. Pull Yourself Together
3. I Choose You
4. Green Eyed Lover
5. Gemini Heart
6. In Her Mother’s House
7. They Lie

1. The Lily
2. Why You So Afraid
3. Never Met A Man Like You
4. It’s A Man’s World
5. Yer Blues
6. Let It Be

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