Saturday, April 28, 2012

In review--Elvis Revisited

Lisa Dillan and Asbjorn Lerheim
Love Me Tender (The Quiet Quiet Way)
Kirkelig Kulturverksted

I have not thought about Elvis Presley in years so I felt surprised when I received a Norwegian recording, Love Me Tender, paying tribute to Presley.  Vocalist Lisa Dillan and guitarist Asbjorn Lerheim headed to Nashville to record in the same studio the late Presley had recorded, and to work with the same musicians as Presley.  While this must have seemed like a dream manifested for Dillan, who became a Presley fan after the legend’s death in 1977, Dillan gives each song unique folk interpretations.  The musicians create a warm, relaxing and quiet atmosphere in which Dillan’s vocals caress every word.  A strong melody and evocative text translates into almost any musical style.

Unlike, Dillan, I know little about Elvis Presley outside of the movies I saw as a child.  While you won’t hear Jailhouse Rock or Blue Suede Shoes on Love Me Tender, you will hear the melancholic Surrender, the rocker Heartbreak Hotel and of course, infamous Love Me Tender.  In fact, Presley penned only two songs of the fourteen included here.  With beautiful orchestration, studio musicians in Nashville and an orchestra recorded in Oslo, this music acts as a reminder of Presley’s talent as a vocal stylist.  I also reflected on the cross-genres in which Presley performed from his start in country-western to his emergence as a rock and pop star, to his last days as a Vegas act.  We could remember Presley for many things, but Dillan and these musicians suggest that we reflect on the American legend’s vocal and songwriting gifts.

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