Miss Li - Best Of 061122-071122

National, 2007
[rating:8/10]

The twelve month period denoted by the title of this compilation (that’s how the logical Swedes write the date) was an ultra productive period for Stockholm’s Linda Carlsson otherwise known as Miss Li.

Her debut album Late Night Heartbroken Blues, released in November 2006 established the Miss Li blueprint: a simple piano melody, jazz influenced double bass and drums, and brass in the chorus or outro, over which Miss Li weaved her gifted vocals from cutesy “little girl” whisper to a throaty “10 packs a day” roar. In May the following year a second album God Put a Rainbow In the Sky expanded upon her debut with more complex arrangements and (in two instances) a focus on political subjects. A mere 5 months later Songs of a Ragdoll veered away from the cabaret and jazz slightly with the addition of accordion for a French folk feel. Apart from these three albums the tireless Miss Li played almost 50 dates in Scandinavia and Europe, and cut a Swedish language track with Lars Winnerbäck, which won a Swedish grammy. There’s busy and then there’s busy.

Best Of 061122-071122 includes songs from all three albums starting with “Oh Boy” a giddy, gleeful story of attraction, before heading into darker territory with “Let Her Go’s” tale of abuse: “She is scared/scared of that cold hard hand/which beats her up everyday.” The mood is elevated with the humorous “I’m Sorry He’s Mine” which finds Miss Li unrepentant after stealing a friend’s boy. “Gotta Leave My Troubles Behind” has no deep subtext but that suits the bluesy bar room stomp just fine, while “High On You’s” themes may be prosaic but the violin and piano ballad provides a welcome respite from the up-tempo numbers. “King and Queens” laments the power wielded by Presidents, the rich and monarchies (“Kings and Queens don’t know about real life/and Presidents don’t know how to fight/all they know is gold and good wine”) and also boasts a cool theremin solo.

“Seems Like We Lost It” is a pragmatic take on a relationship, with Li declaring “I write all the stupid songs/to find what I’m doing wrong.” The accordion and acoustic guitar rich “Leave My Man Alone” finds Miss Li on the other end of the situation described in “I’m Sorry He’s Mine”, and has Li taking to drastic measures to resolve the problem: “He finds you dead down in ditch/so leave my man alone you bitch!” “Ba Ba Ba” is an insanely infectious duet with guitarist and song writing partner Sonny Gustavsson and sees the chorus repeating the title numerous times to great effect. The album ends on the tongue-in-cheek “Miss Li”, which self deprecatingly establishes the Miss Li persona — ultimately she’s just a little girl trying to survive in a psycho world.

The bonus eight track disc of b-sides and out-takes may not match the main disc for quantity, but is equal in quality. “I Can’t Give You Anything”, “Not the One I Need” and “I Thought I Knew You” in particular spotlight what a formidable range Miss Li possesses. Also found here is a raucous cover of “Good Morning” made famous by Judy Garland in the movie Babes in Arms. Punk-jazz anyone?

All told these nineteen songs provide an exquisite introduction to the world of Miss Li and have us eagerly awaiting Miss Li’s next move. We just hope she gets a chance to sleep sometime in her punishing schedule.