THE BEAUTY OF THIS LIFE - LAUREN HOUSLEY
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2017
- Release Date: 28th July, 2017
- Genre: Country-Blues, Country-Soul, Americana
- Record Label: TLC Recordings through Absolute
- Tracks: 10
- Website: http://www.laurenhousley.co.uk/
- Review by: Gary Smith (LCM)
We are blessed in the UK currently with an excellent group of female Country Blues and Soul artists, which are taking the scene by storm including Jo Harman, Beth Rowley, Elles Bailey and Yola Carter. Lauren and her fabulous band I would definitely add to that very esteemed list. There is something very special about their fantastic blend of Blues, Americana, Country and Soul. They are almost the UK version of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which is high praise indeed. Their new fabulous studio album 'The Beauty Of This Life' is a follow up to their highly acclaimed self-released limited edition album 'Sweet Surrender' which we featured as our LCM album of the month back in January 2016. Lauren, her writing partner and super guitarist/piano player Thomas Dibb and her band Mark Lewis and Chris (CJ) Hillman are quite simply world class.
Lauren Housley is a singer-songwriter on the move. Born and raised in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, she had a talent for singing from an early age. Her first move at 18, was from her hometown to Newcastle to study theatre and performance at the university. To pay her way through her studies, she worked as an assistant stage manager at The Sage in Gateshead. This gave her the opportunity to see what she was studying by day, played out on stage every night, by the very best at their craft. This was to prove invaluable for her in becoming a performer herself.
She was to remark, “You can imagine what it was like to learn how to reach out to an audience in this way". Studies completed, her next move was to Manchester to immerse herself in the live music scene there. This was to meet the kind of musicians she felt could help her in her ambition to become a singer songwriter. “I sang and played everywhere that would have me” and by doing this she began to become noticed by the very musicians she wanted to work with.
It didn’t take long for her to be able to front her own band, and play the venues that would enjoy her fusion of Country, Blues and Soul music. If Lancashire was to take to this Yorkshire rose, then other cities across the north of England began to take to her as well.
A full date sheet was to encourage her to record and release a limited edition CD of the songs she was playing on stage. The album, 'Sweet Surrender', was only intended to be sold at her live shows. However it was inevitable that the record would find its way to various journalists and radio producers, who had become fans.
Radio was to play an important part in her next move, as one of the tracks from that album was added to the BBC Radio 2 playlist. When asked what this would mean for her, she replied, "Without radio I would still be playing bars in Manchester". This national exposure was to bring her to the attention of the promoters at Live Nation. “An out of the blue phone call and I was booked to play at Bluesfest at the 02 Arena, along with Van Morrison, Tom Jones and Dave Matthews Band. The irony of this was that I was trying to buy tickets to Bluesfest before the phone call."
London is a tough city for an artist, and following her early performances in the capital she understood what her next move needed to be. This was to record an album that would be good enough to bring her to a wider audience, through a national distributor. Most of last year was given over to recording ‘The Beauty of this Life', which is released on 28th July 2017. The album features the best of her limited edition album and 7 new tracks, which will appear on her own imprint TLC Recordings, through Absolute.
The album begins with the Country rock and blues anthemic 'The Song I Sing', with its vintage feel. One of the songs included from 'Sweet Surrender' album is soul and gospel infused lush 'The Waiting Game'. Classy and timeless with a superb arrangements. Super electric guitar solo from Tom as well.
Already receiving a lot of attention is a brilliant new cover of the Richard Thompson classic 'Why Must I Plead'. It really highlights the richness and tenderness of Lauren vocals and I just love Chris Hillman's pedel steel playing on this one. I think you will be hearing a lot more of this version across the airwaves.
One of the tracks with the wow! factor is the brilliant western flavoured 'So Hard To Love You'. It's Instantly very catchy with super arrangements and playing by Leos Strings. It was chosen by Blues & Roots Radio in Canada to showcase Lauren and the band as one of their current featured artists. 'Ghost Town Blues' was my favourite on 'Sweet Surrender' and this one is rapidly becoming my favourite on the new album.....it's pretty much on repeat now.
The pace slows a little for the title track the personal and reflective piano led 'The Beauty Of This Life'. Another lovely guitar solo from Tom.
Another popular song from the last album was its title track 'Sweet Surrender' with it's lovely mouth organ intro. 'Show Me What Love Is' Is a beautifully tender song with a slow-burning intensity and another one of our favourites on the album. A track which 'hits the spot' is the bluesy 'One Step Closer', where you are instantly transported to the smokey Nashville honky-tonk bar. It lead perfectly to another of the albums uptempo rocky toe-tappers, the always wonderful live 'You Can Feel It' with its earworm of a sing-a-long chorus.
Sublime piano playing and melodies abound on 'All You Need Is A Friend', the album final track. It has a great drum rhythm behind it and once again showcases Lauren's vocal and the high quality and superb musicality of Lauren and Tom's songwriting.
Like 'Sweet Surrender' I think the 5-star 'The Beauty Of The Life' will get a lot of attention from fans and media alike and deservedly so. If you don't have it yet, treat yourself. Highly recommended.