SaraLee has published their second album only a year after their debut Queen of Your Heart but while listening to it, one can't but determine the time as more than enough. SaraLee is the only Finnish artist within the large German-English roots label, Rhythm Bomb Records. According to their press releases, Heart of Stone has sold nicely around Europe and has already gotten really good exposure through radio. It is a solid follow-up that brings out new sides from its makers as well as the strengths of the first album. But, first and foremost it presents a dozen of well-made middle of the road rhythm ’n' blues and rockabilly songs. All the lyrics are by singer-saxophonist Saara Lehtomäki and the songs are composed by her and her talented guitarist friends Markus Tiiro and Eero Vaajoensuu.
What is better than on the first album is especially the songs tiptoeing in a more serene swing-jazz vocalist style, like the flirtatious opening song 1-2-3 He's Mine, the title track with its Angelo Badalamenti style soundtrack finish and the soulful end waltz Black Roses. The lap steel by Jussi Huhtakangas brings western mournful vibes to the slow Wasting Time and Let Me Love You bows beautifully to the 50's r&b-pop ballads with its longing for love.
Instead of aggresive yelling, like most her colleagues in r&b and blues, Lehtomäki has the guts to use her most aggressive sounds sparingly, and thus stands out positively from her contemporary competitors. The vocalist keeps the twinkle in her eye, even during the album's more powerful tracks like I'm A Lover with its Bo Diddley rhythms and the more stricktly old school shuffle-r&b track Hey Bartender. She does not hide her youthful glow that comes across so strikingly in her delivery.
SaraLee can contentedly continue with the retro style in the future as well. However, she has no need to follow the clichés of the genre since her touch produces such personal and timeless results.