Lisa Wahlandt, Seems Like Yesterday Review
by Jeff Becker
Lisa Wahlandt’s latest offering, Seems Like Yesterday, released on Yellowbird Records, is a vocal jazz album that elegantly defies expectations. It is a creative tour de force, blending familiar pop and rock songs with a distinctly jazz-infused touch. Wahlandt’s unique vocal skills shine through in her ability to transcend genre boundaries, reimagining well-known tracks from various musical landscapes. Her talent lies not just in covering these songs but in reinventing them, finding their core essence and illuminating it in a new, jazz-centric light. This approach brings a fresh understanding and appreciation to the listener while showcasing her nuanced vocal style, innovative arrangements, and the synergistic dynamics of her ensemble. Seems Like Yesterday promises to be an album that not only entertains but also invites listeners to reconsider their perceptions of jazz based on rock and pop music.
Starting with “Days Like This,” the album sets a relaxed modern European jazz tone. The shifting chordal structure from Walter Lang’s piano complements Wahlandt’s clear, emotive voice beautifully, showcasing her ability to present melodies in a captivating manner.
In “Stayin Alive,” the transformation of a disco hit into a moody modern jazz piece is a testament to the skillful arrangement. The groove laid down by Sven Faller on drums and Gerwin Eisenhauer on bass allows Wahlandt’s voice to soar, while Lang’s piano accompaniment adds depth to the track. Wahlandt’s variations and embellishments on the melody highlight her jazz proficiency.
“Riders on the Storm” sees a moody and sensual reimagining of a rock classic. Wahlandt’s expressive performance and jazz-inflected phrasing make the song uniquely her own. Similarly, her rendition of “Highway to Hell” demonstrates her vocal range and improvisational skill, supported by Lang’s balanced piano solo.
The album also includes “Crashboombang,” a playful swing tune that showcases Wahlandt’s singing in a setting. This track, along with the introspective “True Colors” and the sensuous “Bette Davis Eyes,” reveals the versatility and depth of Wahlandt’s vocal abilities.
“Billie Jean” is a standout track, where Wahlandt takes an iconic pop tune and makes it distinctly her own, using a speak-singing style over a modern jazz feel. Her clear enunciation brings a new dimension to the lyrics, offering a fresh take on a familiar song.
“Norwegian Wood” blends world and jazz music, presenting a fresh and engaging sound, while “Sisters of Mercy” and “Good Times” show Wahlandt’s ability to infuse pop ballads with jazz elements, making them resonate deeply with the listener.
Seems Like Yesterday is a collection of familiar songs, delivered with an imaginative jazz approach. Wahlandt’s inviting voice and outstanding ensemble of piano, bass, and drums create a cohesive sound. The album’s standout tracks like “True Colors” and “Norwegian Wood” showcase the musicians’ ability to find space and express themselves within the arrangements. Wahlandt’s own composition “Crashboombang” highlights her songwriting skill.
In essence, Seems Like Yesterday is a delightful listening experience, the kind that would enhances a relaxed evening with friends or at a hotel lounge or a local bar. Wahlandt and her band have created an album that is both accessible and artistically rewarding that reflects their musical skills and creative vision.