Looking for yet another up and coming singer to check out? I agree, there’s only so much time and money available in this busy and expensive world. But if you DO have a space in your day and are looking for a new voice in the Soul/Blues/Jazz mould I suggest giving the debut CD by Finnish bombeshell Ina Forsman a spin.
Imagine Beth Hart and Amy Winehouse meeting Nina Simone and they all have a ball…
The musical career of Ina Forsman thus far seems to have been one long round of competitions, she impressed in 2012 with a rendition of Etta James’ ‘All I could do is cry’ in the Finnish talent show ‘Idols’ at just 17, Was victorious in the 2013 Finnish Blues Challenge, and followed up a year later with a creditable fourth place in the highly rated European Blues Challenge in Riga/Latvia.
I’m guessing that Thomas Ruf was present in Riga because 2016 sees the release of ‘Ina Forsman’ on his RUF Records label. This is one CD I won’t be picking from your bargain box on the table at the next Blues Caravan show though Thomas – I ran it through the headphones at ‘Mr Music’ and bought a copy on the spot!
Hats off from the start to Mr Ruf, he offers new artists a pretty good springboard for their first releases and this is no exception. No Mike Vernon producing this one it’s true, but then Vernon wouldn’t have been the man for this one – and he certainly couldn’t have done a better job. This particular disc was put down at Wire Recording studios in Austin, Texas with a band that includes Candye Kane’s jewel of a guitar player Laura Chavez and blues harp playing by top Finnish harpist Helge Tallqvist. All topped off (perfectly!) by The Texas Horns led by producer/saxophonist Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff.
Put this disc on at a party and no one will believe it’s a twenty year old from Finland handling the vocals. Forsman has a power and confidence in her voice that belies her relatively tender age, taking on the vampish confidence of Nina Simone’s ‘I want a little sugar in my tea’ with consummate ease. What impresses even more is that this gem is the only track here not written/co-written by Forsman herself. although they all sound like tried and trusted RnB Soul classics.
From the sassy intro of opener ‘Hanging Loose’ there is a sheer power and confidence that carries on through every laser groove of this shimmering gem of a disc.
For sure there’s more than a little of Amy Winehouse in Forsman’s vocal delivery. It’s evident on the gorgeously funky ‘Pretty Messed Up’ with it’s equally gorgeous lyrics: Try “You can call me a bitch – but I’ll never be your dog” for size. Ouch! And how do you fit a flute solo into a song with such lyrics? It happens, and it works. I really can’t help the Winehouse comparison again on my favourite number here which is ‘Before you go home’ with its lovely little hook-line and a plunky old fashioned guitar solo that fits the mood perfectly with again some great lyrics: “Let me say I love you man. But so does your wife”. No doubts about the bad-ass character behind the lyrics of this one. A touch of Jessica Rabbit and “I can’t help being bad – it’s the way I’m painted” is in here.
Although this really strikes me as a jazz album overall there is a feel of Beth Hart when Forsman gets rocky as on ‘Talk to Me’ and a nod to the likes of Martha and the Vandellas with ‘No room for love’. She even gives Nina Simone a run for her money on Simone’s own ‘I want a little sugar in my bowl’.
Ten out of ten to Mark Kazanoff for his impeccable production and arranging. Full marks too for Forsman’s powerful sound. Looking for the merest chink, break or uncertainty in this girls tonsils is a vain occupation. Her voice is so strong and confident it’s bomb-proof.
In ‘Devil may dance tonight’ Forsman bemoans (to a finger clickingly danceable beat) that “I ain’t much of a dancer”. We’ll be able to judge that aspect of her performance on Valentines day in Bonn when she is a part of the RUF Blues Caravan with Tasha Taylor and Layla Zoe at The Harmonie. My guess is that she’s right – No one is perfect.