With her famous ability to improvise lyrics, Layla Zoe would probably prefer to record live albums and this one is her fifth. With that title, this one does indeed look back at most, but not all, of her albums. Ms. Zoe began her career in BC, moved here and then to Montreal but has for some years now lived in Germany. She has a new trio and these two discs document an evening in Bremen last November 27th. Five of the thirteen songs are from Gemini, her last album which was a 2CD acoustic/electric set and a song from it opens, “She Don’t Believe” with just Krissy Matthews on guitar as accompanist, lyrically not too different from the studio version but Matthews’ guitar part is very attractive. She then goes back to her very first album, Shades of Blues, and the more traditional blues forms she was using then. “Leave You For Good” is a song to a wayward partner and it leaves lots of room for Matthews, who certainly knows his way around a fretboard. “Don’t Want to Hurt Nobody” is from Hoochie Coochie Woman and is quite a nice slow blues with bassist Paul Jobson switching to organ. The Lily was the first album recorded in Germany and moves her firmly into her current blues rock style. “Never Met a Man (Like You)” rocks out and turns into an audience singalong before it ends. From the album Sleep Little Girl comes “Black Oil”, a remarkably effective performance of this climate change warning song. “Backstage Queen”, from Breaking Free, was about a young woman headed in the wrong direction. It segues into “Weakness”, another Gemini song about another wayward partner. “Ghost Train” from Gemini, features drummer Frank Duindam, in a song about the importance of realizing your potential. A ballad from Sleep Little Girl, the lengthy “Hippy Chick” concludes the program but the encore is “I Shall be Released” with Jobson back on organ. Not previously recorded by Layla, she turns in a heartfelt performance with a very gospel-flavoured organ part that certainly gave the audience on this night a great concert. As on earlier albums, she likes to drop in F-bombs on occasion and “Bitch With The Red Head” should have a parental advisory warning. She also goes over the top vocally on occasion but that too is part of a Layla Zoe performance. As a modern blues rock album this is a well programmed and her new band is excellent. A worthy and welcome addition to her growing discography. Her web site is www.layla.ca.

March 2020 - Adam Karch
March 2020 - David Clayton-Thomas