Sara Lee – Heart Of Stone | Album Review

Sara Lee – Heart Of Stone

Rhythm Bomb Records

12 songs time – 39:54

Saara “Saralee” Lehtomaki is a chanteuse from Finland dealing in Rhythm & Blues territory. Aside from a fetching voice, she plays a mean saxophone. Her vocal approach goes from fifties mellow to a gutsy attack. Her band is guitar-bass-drums plus harmonica and a guest lap steel player on two tracks. Unfortunately as is the case with many foreign bands her accent occasionally is challenging.

Sara’s sexy sax leads off the CD on “1-2-3 He’s Mine”, or as she puts it “one, two, tree he’s mine”. Her voice is as clear as a bell. Her words are easier to understand on “I’m A Lover”, with its’ Bo Diddley beat. Double bass player Jari Lehtomaki doubles on harmonica here. The band swings out on “Trouble Knows I’m Coming In” where Sara multi tracks her background vocals. Guitarist Markus Tiiro contributes a very good solo on this one. Sara’s lovely voice is haunting on the slow and moody “Wasting Time”. Jussi Huhtakangas plays some subtle lap steel guitar here.

The sax is dusted off for the clip-clop rhythm of the mid tempo “Runaway Bride”. Jani Ahtiainen’s deft tom-tom work propels the slow, deliberate and mesmerizing title song. By now Sara’s enchanting voice as heard on “Black Widow” more or less transcends her tricky accent. The sax riff on “Hey Bartender!” sticks in your brain. Sara stretches out on a nifty solo as well. Jussi’s lap steel plays a more prominent role on “Third Man Down”. The record ends with “Black Roses”, a tender ballad highlighted by nicely jazzy guitar.

This recording is captivating from start to Finnish(pun intended). It’s a breath of fresh air in the musical world of blazing guitars and macho posturing. This set of band originals was well arranged, performed and produced. The somewhat spare instrumentation gives the listener a soothing experience. The bands love of American music comes through in the loving execution of each song. All the solos are short and to the point, devoid of excesses. Consider this album an oasis from the usual musical fare.

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