Album review from the Rock Doctor in BC, Canada

NOWHERE LEFT TO GO Layla Zoe (Independent) ****+

No better way to start off a brand new year than with a little fire and brimstone blues.  Layla’s 15th album features everything from blues to rock, folk, gospel and more, often concurrently, but mostly blues with rock muscle… and she KILLS it.

Originally from British Columbia and now calling the Netherlands home, Zoe pulled together friends, colleagues and fans from everywhere to crowd fund, record and produce this new record.  Nowhere Left To Go is 10 songs, co-written with people like Jackie Venson, Alastair Greene and Suzie Vinnick.  Recording during the pandemic with social distancing protocols certainly makes recording with others challenging, but modern technology offers many solutions and has done so for years.  Layla’s vocals were recorded, mixed and mastered by Nils Volcker at Access All Areas Studios in Bremen, Germany, while the contributions of others came from their remote locations.

I became a fan a number of years ago with her album Breaking Free and the song Highway Of Tears in particular.  I was bowled over by the passion and power of her performance then, that HUGE voice, and feel the same way about Nowhere Left to Go.  The album opens with Pray, a song for our times if there ever was one, and tunes like Sometimes We Fight, Don’t Wanna Help Anyone and Might Need To Fly feel like they were made for these days too, although they also reach beyond that tight little box we all seem to find ourselves in at the moment. Of course there are songs of a more personal nature as well, about relationships.

Thanks to the volcanic power of many of these songs a ballad like Might Need To Flystands in stark contrast to the sonic firepower of the tracks leading up to it.  I even like how the disc is sequenced, with the last 3 songs serving as a cool down coda, to bring us in for a landing after a tense. emotional journey as the 45 minute album winds down.  The power and passion of her artistry made me a fan, and that multiplies with Nowhere Left To Go.  I wish I could be in the room with you when you hear this for the first time!

KEY CUTS:  Sometimes We Fight, Pray, Might Need To Fly

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