I close out the trifecta of female fronted bands with my favorite; Laura Love. I first heard Laura via my local community radio station‘s morning drive show. They were playing the song I Am Wondering on a daily basis and the more I heard it the more I wanted to hear it. Eventually I made my way over to the local record store and bought the album “Octoroon” and my love affair with Laura Love’s music began.
Laura Love was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and is the daughter of the jazz saxophonist, Preston Love and Wini Winston, a jazz singer. Her father abandoned the family while Laura was still an infant and Laura did not see him again until, at the age of 16, she snuck into a nearby club to see him play. For most of her childhood she had believed he was killed in an automobile crash as her mother had told her. In addition, her mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia that would often render her hospitalized and Laura would be moved into orphanages or foster homes. Her story and struggles are quite humbling and were released as a book entitled “You Ain’t Go No Easter Clothes” published by Hyperion books.
Laura’s music is best described as an afrocentric meshing of bluegrass, funk, and folk that is impossible not to move to. Lyrically her songs run the gamut from humorous, to political at times, sometimes personal, but always thought provoking. Then there is her voice. In a word I would have to describe her voice as amazing. Listening to her cover Nirvana’s Come As You Are and the a capella song Blind Bartimus off Octoroon literally gives me chills. You never know where the songs are going. One song she’ll be reciting nursery rhymes and the next she’ll be talking about watching her ass grow. All of this meshes into pure delight.
Laura’s travelling cast of characters includes Barbara Lamb on the fiddle, Chris Leighton on drums, Rod Cook and Julie Wolf on guitars. Laura’s voice is even better live, and the sheer joy and energy that comes from her during a show makes everyone in the crowd smile. Hopping and dancing while playing the bass and using creative Chaka Kahn melodies to introduce her band makes her shows a two hour party.
All of this is why Laura Love is my favorite female artist out there. While preparing this I discovered she had just released a new cd entitled, NeGrass (pronounced: KNEE-grass) on her personal label Octoroon Biography. Her website describes it as:
a collection of original and traditional Negro spirituals, field hollers and bluegrass music: Laura’s imagined history of how it might have been for her great grandparents as they were being released from slavery and stepping into a free, yet uncertain, life. This is a joyful and heartbreaking story.
I’ll be getting this cd shortly and look forward to posting a review. Check out her material below as I believe she is one of the best artists you have never heard of.
Here is a video of her performing a cover of Nirvana’s Come As You Are on Sessions @ West 54th. Her version is also available on her cd, Octoroon: