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BWW Album Review: Lena Hall's OBSESSED: ELTON JOHN Pulsates with Pure Electricity

BWW Album Review: Lena Hall's OBSESSED: ELTON JOHN Pulsates with Pure Electricity
Cover art courtesy of SKB Records.

The pulsating energy of Elton John has long been one of the things that has turned listeners into rabid fans of him and his music for decades. This is not lost on Lena Hall, who matches him kilowatt for kilowatt in her exuberant OBSESSED: Elton John, which is this month's release in her in ongoing series of EPs for calendar year 2018.

The new EP features Hall's rendition of five songs originally performed by John. Coming on the heels of January's EP dedicated to the cult musical phenomenon HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH and February's tribute to Peter Gabriel, this month's collection of songs feels likes an extra special gift. Listening to it almost feels like Hall found a wrapped gift in the back of her closet that she forgot to give us for Christmas (or whatever major holiday you celebrate), and this EP is that gift.

The EP opens with the indelible anthem "The Bitch is Back," which Hall performs with tangible enthusiasm. Her version ensures that the bite and confidence written into the lyrics by Bernie Taupin is front and center. Likewise, Justin Craig's indefatigable strumming on the guitar and Matt Duncan's saxophone solo keep the song driving along. Then, Hall tackles the emotional "Someone Saved My Live Tonight." Craig's emotional piano playing and Hall's ethereally raw vocals brilliantly dance an elegant pas de deux to create a tender and endearing version of this beloved classic.

Third, Hall deftly turns on her acclaimed, gritty rock vocals for "Take Me to the Pilot," which many may not be familiar with. With gravel and gusto, Hall makes this "Your Song" B-side a rollicking experience that is sure to have toes tapping ad heads bopping. For the fourth track, "Have Mercy on the Criminal," Hall exploits her prowess for soulful blues as she wails with enigmatic majesty. Craig's darkly intonated electric guitar rifts add robust color to song, giving it a moody and tumultuous ambience.

The EP closes with one of John's most commercially successful and easily recognizable hits, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting." Here Hall keenly controls her rocky vocals to give her delivery that much needed rough-around-the-edges and roughly hewn timbre while not damaging her fabulous instrument. Her lively take on this hit is informed by her own glee for performing the tune, making her iteration all the more enjoyable.

Lena Hall's OBSESSED: Elton John was released by SKB Records and can be purchased at The EP is also available on all digital and streaming platforms.

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