Born in Nanaimo and starting her career in BC, Layla Zoe moved here for a time and then on to Montreal. She found so much work in Europe that she moved there and now lives in Germany where she is also signed to its major blues label, Ruf Records. Her recent albums have been collaborations with a guitarist who is also a songwriting partner. Jan Laacks fills that role here as he did on the last studio disc, Breaking Free, and on the 2CD set Live At Spirit of ’66. Songs From The Road is also a two-disc set but here one is an all-region DVD with a slightly different set list. The songs are all drawn from those recent albums and performed with one hard rocking outfit: Laacks with Christoph Hübner on bass and Claus Schulte on drums, recorded in Nuernberg, Germany, this past March. Laacks has a heavy load to carry as the only lead instrument but his work is effortless, soloing with great imagination where needed. If you were at last year’s Women’s Blues Revue, you’ll know that Ms. Zoe has an impressive stage presence. She’s also known for her ability to improvise lyrics and vocals at will but on this evening she sticks fairly close to the studio originals. “Backstage Queen”, “Work Horse” and “Never Met A Man Like You” are among the highlights. Her magnum opus, “Highway Of Tears”, is here with its introduction, explaining the lyrics about our missing murdered aboriginal women, and her hope that the German audience can understand the words. It’s an impassioned performance, closing the show. The second encore concludes the DVD: an a capella “Me And Bobby McGee”. The CD concludes with the first encore, Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary” (not a capella). With topflight camera work and superb sound, this is the way to catch Layla Zoe if you can’t get to Germany. With her earlier CDs not so easy to come by (but they are available at www.layla.ca), this major label package will bring her music to a much wider audience. Her perceptive lyrics need to be heard.

John’s Blues Pick December 2017 - Emily Burgess
John's Blues Picks December 2017 - Mike “Mudfoot” McDonald