CD: 14 Songs, 50:85 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock
Early in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, during the song “Wait for It,” Aaron Burr belts out, “I am inimitable. I am an original!” This is what all artists seek to be, as original Chicago native Lauren Anderson does on Truly Me. Unfortunately, her vocals sound too much like some of the musical influences noted on her website – specifically Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi. Is her singing high-octane? You bet. No one will be able to miss her fiery long notes, held for more than three seconds on some of her debut CD’s fourteen tracks. Are her lyrics original? Indeed. No over-covered covers exist here. Does Lauren perform with passion and soul? Without a doubt. The problem is, some fans might scratch their heads and say, “I’ve heard her before, haven’t I?” instead of, “Why haven’t I heard her before?” Also featuring blistering guitar, this album resembles peppercorn steak and home-brew beer: raw and spicy, with no studio polish.
Anderson’s website reveals intriguing background information: “Having listened to those around her, telling her that music and the arts were difficult fields to have a career in, Lauren followed the safe path in life, making sure she had a “back-up” plan while working on her music and performing. However, now with a steady job, she has found that passions don’t die easily, and despite her love of working as a music therapist, she is ready to take on the challenge of making music performance her career. “After officially completing her masters in 2012, Lauren began performing solo gigs around the greater Kansas City area at venues such as Bar Louie, Jerry’s Bait Shop and Main Street Cafe. She quickly realized that she could only go so far in the business while playing solo gigs, so she began attending jam sessions at venues such as Freddy T’s, Llewelyn’s Pub and Westport Saloon.”
Another notable accolade that she’s received is being named Female Vocalist of the Year in 2015 at the Midwest Music Awards. Not only that, but several other reviews of her first offering have been positive. Lauren shows much promise and potential, but could use more distinction.
Alongside Anderson, as she performs on vocals and guitar, are guitarist Adam Stuber, bassist Dylan Reiter, and drummers Kris Schnebelen and Jeff Daniels. Guest musicians include Garrett Schubert on saxophone; Mike Walker on trombone; Go-Go Ray on drums; Mark Anderson on guitar; Shinetop on organ and keyboard; and Christine Gross on cello.
The opening song of the album, along with setting the tone for the rest of it, seizes attention:
Track 01: “One Day” – No meek and demure wallflower is Lauren Anderson. “I’ve always been the kind of girl who has too much to say. I try to keep it in, but always go astray. I swear I try my best, but I can’t stop myself. At times I get so bad – wish I was someone else. Until one day, I found the blues.” With scorching, take-no-prisoners guitar and a stomping barroom beat, “One Day” is this CD’s first track for good reason.
Truly Me is truly a good start, but for a rare artifact of Anderson’s blues, we must “Wait for It.”