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October 1999

Lisa Ekdahl/Peter Nordahl Trio
Back to Earth
RCA Victor

This Swedish crossover pop singer has been winning rave reviews throughout Europe, touted as the new Billie Holiday or Blossom Dearie. I disagree.

Her little-girl sound lacks the plaintive passion of Billie and the droll wit of Blossom. She's Betty-Boop-cute on "Now or Never," sharply shrill on "Just for the Thrill," weakly fragile on "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Is she rehearsing to dub vocals for Ally McBeal?

Ekdahl's voice is more tolerably mellow in the lower register on "Laziest Girl in Town," but she continually delivers fragmented phrasing that perhaps is a carry-over from her pop-star roots. The album's best jazz track of 13 is an imaginative instrumental, "Plaintive Rumba," eloquently performed by pianist Peter Nordahl, bassist Patrik Boman and drummer Ronnie Gardiner.

Originally published in October 1999
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