Lauren Anderson – Love on the Rocks
This review may have a few knots in the pine, but as an artist, Lauren Anderson is a viable performer. I grew up on the blues & was given in the 50s records by (Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, B.B. King). I bought in the 60s (John Mayall, Duster Bennett, the Butterfield Blues Band, Savoy Brown & Canned Heat) along with Janis Joplin, Candy Givens, Genya Ravan & Brenda Patterson. My assessment & measure of new blues artists will always be affected by this era.
Originally from Chicago Lauren Anderson has a great blues voice but to like her you may have to accept the more commercial blues diet than expect a potent vintage. Few songs confirm an authentic blues. These are more derivatives though quite entertaining.
What’s the issue? I doubt Lauren has “lived” the blues or had the blues as realistically as Janis Joplin. She’s a reliable interpreter similar to Clay Melton, a young great blues lead guitar/vocalist I recently reviewed. It’s not to suggest Ms. Anderson isn’t a worthy blues artist. Quite the contrary. What she lacks is a degree of authenticity. I don’t ever hear any pain in her tone, growls, angst, or a ‘don’t fuck with me,’ attitude.
The 9-cut Love on the Rocks (Drops Aug. 6 – CPI/Independent) is nonetheless a good intro. “Stand Still,” is a highlight. Far more believable as a blues interpretive vocalist. Lauren’s tonality is somewhat similar to the late Eva Cassidy. A folk-pop singer with a satiny voice who explored blues. She allowed it to come from her soul rather than just her superb vocal cords. (Eva recorded Live at the Blues Alley. The interior of Lauren’s CD has a B&W image against a brick wall similar to Eva’s cover image on her CD).
On “Holdin’ Me Down,” Lauren strides confidently through Eva Cassidy’s territory. Lauren has tonality when she isn’t full throttle. Her rocker, “Just F***ing Begun,” is excellent. “Your Turn” is good but stuck at the end of the CD.
Lauren needs to abandon blues cliché lyrics & vocal showboating. Focus on more serious ideas. “I’m Done” – is a silly dated 70s funk exercise. It’s out of place. The standard blues lines here never really challenge the fine musicians: Matt Doctor (drums), Hutch (bass), Jim Greene (guitar), Kiran Gupta (keys/organ), Jon & Liz Estes (strings), & Mike Zito (guest guitar/“Back to Chicago”).
“Keep On,” is an economical lift of “Po’ Lazarus,” by the Fairfield Four. “Love on the Rocks,” is better. Lauren needs to take care that her foundation is not built on sand. She’s soulful on this 9-cut, 30-minute CD with good cover art produced by Taylor Lonardo & the Lauren Anderson Band. Image courtesy of Rob Smith Photos / Lauren’s website.