Been Meaning To Tell You
Nine years ago when vocalist Ina Forsman was only 17 she performed Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry” on a Finnish TV talent show. Since then she began touring with Helsinki’s harp master Helge Tallqvist and Belgian guitarist Guy Verlinde, all the while honing her songwriting skills. Thomas Ruf realized her potential and in 2016 she became part of Ruf Records’ Blues Caravan with America’s Tasha Taylor and Canada’s Layla Zoe, and an album commemorating that tour was soon released. Forsman’s self titled solo debut, also on Ruf Records, was also released featuring ten originals and a cover of Nina Simone’s 1980 classic “I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl”.
While gigging in New York Forsman suffered a setback when she lost her phone and all of her new songs. It took her two years to write a new batch of songs but the resilient songwriter kept a positive attitude “At the end of the day, I’m happy I lost my phone. I lived a little more life, and wrote better songs with more emotion”. These twelve songs comprise her sophomore recording “Been Meaning to Tell You”.
For the new album Forsman brought back both the Grammy nominated Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff as saxophonist and producer; and guitarist Laura Chavez. Kazanoff brought with him his horn section, “The Texas Horns”, including John Mills, baritone sax and flute; and Al Adalberto Gomez, trumpet. Randy Zimmerman was added on trombone. Rounding out the band are Red Young, piano and keyboards; Chris Maresh, electric and upright bass; and Brannen Temple, drums and percussion. The album was recorded at Austin’s Wire Recording Studio in March of 2018.
All of the lyrics are written by Forsman, while the music is usually written with Samuli Rautiainen or Anna Wilkman. Forsman mostly writes about relationships as she easily mixes soul blues with pop, rock and jazz. Young’s piano opens the sultry “Be My Home” with the lyric “So won’t you go and I will follow, be my home I’ve never known, my soul is tired, I’ve been traveling so long, be my home I’ve never known”.
Temple’s big beats set up the funk on “Get Mine” before Young takes a beautiful solo. Mills plays flute on the jazz pop “All Good” while Gomez takes a muted trumpet solo; here Forsman reminds me of Rickie Lee Jones.
The Texas Horns are featured on the soulful “Genius” as Forsman sings “Sometimes you get so serious, but baby that’s alright with me, though sometimes it gets me furious, that’s why I know you’re in it for real”. Chavez punctuates the lyric with a fabulous guitar solo.
“Whatcha Gonna Do” and “Why You Gotta Be That Way” offer two different perspectives on sexual harassment. “The first song is the situation from a man’s point of view…he sees a girl, tries to get her attention and ends up making some fucked up decisions. The next song tells the story from the girl’s point of view; she just wants to carry on with her stuff but this dude won’t leave her alone”. In fact the line “Why You Gotta Be That Way” appears in both songs. This is fabulous songwriting.
“Who Hurt You” is about an abusive relationship with the lyric “Baby, who hurt you that bad”. “Every Single Beat” features a terrific Latin rhythm with percussionist Temple, the full horn section, and pianist Young. Forsman sings the closer “Sunny” acapella and it’s a beautiful ending to this emotionally deep and enduring album.
“Been Meaning To Tell You” is a mixture of genres that may be called Contemporary Blues. Regardless, Forsman is a major talent.