As a child, Lara Price endured being abandoned at birth and then leaving her native country of Vietnam for the United States as part of a rescue operation for orphaned children. Price was among the small percentage of children who managed to survive the perilous experience. For the last eighteen years, she has been honing her vocal talent in the San Francisco area, releasing four discs that included an unplugged session with guitarist Laura Chavez.
For her latest title, Price put together an “A-Team” of backing musicians that includes Mighty Mike Schermer, Kid Andersen, and Chris Cain on guitar, Steve Evans on bass, and Derrick Martin on drums and percussion. Six cuts feature a horn section comprised of Mike Rinta on trombone, Mike Rose on trumpet & flugelhorn, and Michael Peloquin on tenor & baritone saxophone plus arranging the horn charts. The Sweet Nectar Back-up Singers, Sue McCracklin and Maureen Smith, appear on the first eleven tracks while Lisa Lueschner’s voice is added on five songs.
Price’s sultry voice makes an immediate impact on the opening track, “Get It When I Want It,” with the horns providing sharp outbursts in support. The horns are also prominently featured on the driving “Undone,” as is Schermer’s wah-wah tinged solo. “Crazy Lucy” was written by Price, Schermer, and Chavez, delivering a cautionary tale about those little voices in the mind that help distinguish between right and wrong. The band gives “Pack It Up” a funky swagger while the title track has a driving beat layered with Jim Pugh’s organ fills.
The pace slows on “Happy Blue Year,” a Price/Schermer original that allows the singer to bare her soul with seductive tones. Equally impressive is her performance on “Time,” as her vulnerability comes to the fore while she ruminates over the end of a love affair. But she bounces back on “One Tear At A Time,” embracing the heartache without surrendering to it, then letting Cain express her emotions through his guitar strings. A cover of George Jackson’s “Slipped Tripped Fell In Love” allows Price to honor one of her vocal influences, Ann Peebles, over a hard-driving rhythm. “Cryin’ Over You” has a more relaxed pace that meshes perfectly with Price’s wistful, restrained vocal.
The disc closes with Price using dramatic, drawn-out phrasing that plays off Andersen’s biting guitar licks to fashion a reflective sermon on the dimensions of “Love Lost”. It is one final, stirring turn on a disc full of strong performances that mark Lara Price as a force in the soul blues arena, a singer who refrains from screaming or shouting, content to use her impressive skills to tell the story in each song. This one definitely merits more than one listen.