On Like A Road Leading Home, Sofia has broadened her repertoire, turning to latterday pop and in particular the music of Bob Dylan. Only recently has Dylan's work been taken up by singers in and on the edges of jazz and many listeners will not be surprised that his songs lend themselves to interpretation by contemporary singers. The songs have interesting melodies and meaningful lyrics that explore many topics not often touched upon by the writers of classic pop. Sofia's interpretations reach to the heart of these songs and she delivers always fascinating variations on the originals, leaning in some instances towards country while the blues that Dylan so admires can also be heard. On this 2011 release, Sofia is joined by pianist James Weidman, bassist Marcus McLauren, guitarist Adam Lomeo, and drummer Vince Ector, while accordionist Mariel Berger and violinist Scott Tixier bring added colour to the basic ensemble sound. This is a very pleasing set that should have wide appeal and should certainly extend this admirable singer's audience.
July 8, 2011 Bruce Crowther, Author, Music writer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2011 Written by Alex Henderson
Like a Road Leading Home: Vocalist Sofia Laiti Celebrates American Roots Music On New Album
Midnight Sun Music announces the July 11 release of Like a Road Leading Home, the fifth album by New York City-based vocalist Sofia Laiti. Like a Road Leading Home marks a major change of direction for Laiti, who is known for her expressive contributions to vocal jazz but favors more of an adult alternative approach on her new release. Laiti has always included quality songs in her repertoire, performing mostly jazz and Tin Pan Alley standards on her previous albums; on Like a Road Leading Home, however, Laiti brings her distinctive and personal touch to introspective performances of rock material that includes Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” as well as two Leonard Cohen songs (“Dance Me to the End of Love” and “If It Be Your Will”) and no less than six gems by the iconic Bob Dylan (“Standing in the Doorway,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “This Dream of You,” “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” and “Make You Feel My Love”).
“After a lengthy career as a jazz artist and recording four jazz albums, I was ready to take a new musical direction,” explains Laiti, who grew up in Finland but has spent the last 20 years in the United States. “For me, music has no boundaries. This album samples some of the best of the contemporary American songbook, which I was exposed to after moving to the States from Finland in 1991.”
Although Like a Road Leading Home is largely a celebration of American roots music, Laiti also provides an introspective version of the late Jamaican reggae singer Peter Tosh’s “Stop That Train.” Meanwhile, “Heartland” is a song that Dylan co-wrote with country-pop star Willie Nelson, and the title track is a Don Nix/Dan Penn favorite that was made popular by the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.
Reflecting on the material she selected for Like a Road Leading Home, Laiti notes: “I've been drawn to the genius of Bob Dylan's music from the onset; his amazing melodies and lyrics are timeless. I am also inspired by the uplifting songs, musical breadth and complex yet danceable rhythms of the Grateful Dead. And I could not resist the incomparable Leonard Cohen, a musician of passion and poetry, or the bell-like voice of Willie Nelson.”
Although Like a Road Leading Home is not a straight-jazz album in the strict sense, jazz continues to influence and inspire Laiti—and one of the musicians backing her on this album is New York-based jazz pianist James Weidman, with whom Laiti has worked with extensively in the past. Other musicians on Like a Road Leading Home include bassist Marcus McLauren, guitarist Adam Lomeo, violinist Scott Tixier, drummer Vincent Ector and accordion player Mariel Berger.
Laiti has enjoyed praise from both journalists and musicians. Jazz critic Willard Jenkins has described Laiti as “a sensitive interpreter of songs,” and the great jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan has said of Laiti: “She has a beautiful voice and approaches the lyrics of a song with deep feeling and emotion.” And those high musical standards are very much in evidence on Like a Road Leading Home, which marks an exciting new phase in the career of Sofia Laiti.
by Alex Henderson