Layla Zoe – Retrospective Tour 2019 | Album Review

Layla Zoe – Retrospective Tour 2019

Self Released

7 tracks and 6 tracks on two CDs

Layla Zoe was born in Victoria, Canada, and was raised on Vancouver Island. Zoe early on developed a love of the blues from her Dad’s record collection. She honed her skills in the bar scene and coffee houses and after, attending workshops, Zoe released her first EP You Will in 2005. She worked with Vancouver guitar player Chris Raines from 2006 to 2008 and released her next albums Shades of Blue (2006) and Hoochie Coochie Woman (2007), a mix of originals and covers. In 2009 she self-produced and released an original acoustic album entitled The Firegirl with Dallas Neudorf on guitar and Layla on piano and vocals.

Cable Car Records owner Henrik Freischlader signed Layla to his label in 2010, and they released three albums: Sleep Little Girl (2011), The Lily (2013), and her first double album Live at Spirit of 66 (2015).  Zoe signed with Ruf Records in 2016 and toured in Ruf’s Blues Caravan; she released Breaking Free (2016). Her first live CD/DVD was released in 2017 as part of the Songs from the Road series. She self-released her most recent album GEMINI in 2018, a double studio album.

Zoes’ travels and endeavors overseas and in Canada have been prolific. She has worked with Jeff Healey, Sonny Landreth, Susan Tedeschi, John Mayall, Coco Montoya and Walter “Wolfman” Washington. She has done much work in Europe and has recorded and/pinsky lived in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and has appeared all over the globe and has released 13 albums. This double live album was recorded in Bremen, Germany and features a retrospective of her work.  In addition to Zoe on vocals and harp are Krissy Matthews on guitar and backing vocals, Paul Jobson on bass, keys and backing vocals, and Frank Duindam in drums and backing vocals.

The first disc is her first set and all songs here are penned by Zoe her and writing partners. The blues rocker “She Didn’t Believe” opens the set.  Zoe sings with guts and the guitar stings in support and offers up a huge solo. “Leave You for Good” follows, a mid-tempo cut with more big guitar work and Zoe growling and howling out the lead with abandon. Two guitar solos and a testimonial sort of threat to her cheating man give the listener the idea that she and band mean business. “Someday” is a bouncy cut which won Zoe the 2010 Comp 10 Finnish blues song writing competition.   Big guitar and big vocals are the order of the day; Matthews wails on guitar and Zoe blows the roof off with her vocals. Her “Don’t Wanna Hurt Nobody” from Hoochie Coochie Woman is an emotion filled  restrained blues ballad with heartfelt vocals and more cool guitar.

“Never Met A Man Like You” has another pair of huge guitar solos and it’s a rousing and rocking dance cut. Her GEMINI album gives us “Little Sister,” a funky, bluesy reggae feeling cut. Matthews again gives us another big solo and Zoe engages the audience in a fun sing along. “Black Oil” is a song about the US  oil spill and features a driving guitar lead to open the song.  It’s a song of tortured feelings and strong emotions as both Zoe and Matthews weave a strong picture with their music.

Disc two is the second set and is again all original music except for the final track. “Backstage Queen” starts the set, another rocking blues with a hard driving beat. Matthews shreds to the delight of the crowd as Zoe groans and howls. “Weakness” is next, another cut where Zoe schools her man but forgives his indiscretions in a dramatic fashion and we get another major guitar solo. “Bitch With The Head Of Red” follows, with some more shredding and Zoe getting down and dirty. She follows with “Ghost Train,” a cut where Zoe continues her vocal assault and Matthews tears it up on guitar again, too. “Hippie Chick” turns the pace down as Zoe gives us a ballad that builds and then ends with a guttural and moaning finish. The encore is Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Jobson is featured on organ here for the entire cut.  Zoe sings and then Jobson and Matthews take us home.

Zoe (it’s pronounced “Zoh,” by the way, not “Zoh-ee”) has a big voice with lots of emotion and raw power.  The crowd at the recording session was into the performance as she laid out her soul for all. Fusing blues and rock, Zoe and company put on a good show. With vocals blazing, guitar wailing and a big back beat, the songs range from introspective to out and out rocking good times.  It’s not for the faint of heart- this stuff is in your face music which at times is really out there. It is an interesting set of blues tunes that provide a good introduction to listeners for Zoe’s music.  Her fans will enjoy the live performance of cuts from her career and twelve prior albums.

Please follow and like us: