Ina Forsman – Been Meaning To Tell You | Album Review

Ina Forsman – Been Meaning To Tell You

Ruf Records RUF 1262

12 songs – 49 minutes

Ina Forsman has been making a name for herself on both sides of the Atlantic since releasing her self-titled debut album on Germany’s Ruf label three years ago. Music lovers everywhere should be delighted by this long-awaited follow-up, which was sidetracked by personal tragedy.

Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, Ina is a powerful, silky smooth, melismatic alto who catches your attention from the jump. She was only six when she set her eyes on a singing career. First influenced by Christina Aguilera, she quickly became interested in old-school blues and R&B through Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and others.

She competed in the first season of The Voice Of Finland at age 15, taking home third-place honors and catching the attention of Helge Tallqvist, a Finnish institution on blues harp, who quickly invited her to sit in. She toured with him for years as a member of his band, leaving shortly before signing with Ruf and touring with Canadian Layla Zoe and American Tasha Taylor as part of the label’s international 2016 Blues Caravan.

Now 24, Forsman was making plans for a second album, but her plans were derailed during a trip to New York. She lost her cellphone – and all of the material she’d written for the release. Now, however, she’s glad she did. “I’ve lived a little more life,” she says, “and wrote better songs with more emotion.”

Like her first album, Been Meaning To Tell You was recorded in Austin, Tex., under the direction of legendary tenor sax player/producer Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff. Ina’s backed by several members of the all-star lineup that appeared previously, including guitarist Laura Chavez and The Texas Horns – Kazanoff, John Mills (baritone sax and flute) and Al Gomez (trumpet) — as well as Red Young and Jay Stiles on keys, Brannen Temple on percussion, Chris Maresh on bass and Randy Zimmerman on trombone. Backing vocals are provided Alice Spencer.

Forsman penned all 12 of tunes here, several of which are delivered with rapid-fire lyrics that closely mirror rap, but feel comfort within the soul-blues format. A simple keyboard intro opens the ballad “Be My Home.” Ina’s distinctive melismatic voice joins after a few measures as she promises – in perfectly unaccented English — to give her all to the ones she loves as they work together to leave the bad days behind. The powerful choral ending comes across with a strong gospel feel.

The action heats up and Forsman’s vocals erupt for “Get Mine,” a funky soul-blues that stresses she’s here to have a good time and crank out hits. The old-school R&B number “All Is Good” continues the theme as it expresses her gratefulness and happiness that you’re here to listen.

Up next, the stop-time, horn-fueled “Genius” describes deep feelings for someone who both adores and understands her. Chavez’s mid-tune solo soars. The soulful “Whatcha Gonna Do” questions the pending reaction of a man as he watches a stunning woman wearing six-inch heels strut down the street while “Why You Gotta Be That Way” deals with being hit on repeatedly by someone as she listens to music on headphones during a stroll.

Pain in different forms comes to the fore in the next three numbers. The powerful, introspective ballad “Miss Mistreated” deals with unrequited romance, while “Figure” finds Forsman regretting all the hurt she’s inflicted on the man she loves as she attempts to understand and “Who Hurt You” offers encouragement and support to a female friend.

“Every Single Beat” offers up “soul soup” to a stranger before “Chains” finds Ina open to confinement as long as she’s treated right. The disc ends with “Sunny,” which offers encouragement a friend with a restless heart who always brightens the singer’s life.

Available through most major retailers, Been Meaning To Tell You is powerful, modern soul-blues, and Ina Forsman has a voice for the ages. Strongly recommended.

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