Lauren Monroe's debut album “The Freedom Sessions.” Produced by Rick Allen, legendary drummer of Def Leppard, “The Freedom Sessions” is a collection of Americana acoustic rock performances that crosses over into the genres of blues, country and pop.
The music of Lauren Monroe delivers a message of healing and hope with honesty and raw vulnerability. All 10 original songs take you on a journey of transformation for the New York City-born vocalist, songwriter, musician and teacher.
Lauren’s roots are in acoustic rock and folk music. Her passion for spiritual awakening led her around the world shaping her true nature as an artist, storyteller and cross-cultural healer. Born out of life experience, the mystical and the sacred infuses her music with sounds and imagery that speak to our current changing times.
While Lauren Monroe s new CD The Freedom Sessions opens with two solid tunes, Blaze, and By My Side, the tastiest bits of ear candy are found in the middle tracks, Love Won t Let Me Down, Way To Burn, and Black River. For The Freedom Sessions, the Americana crossover rock artist collaborated with guitarist Stoll Vaughan to pen eight of the ten songs, hooked up with Preston Pope for another, Wildest Dreams, and gives us a solo composition, Black River.
Love Won t Let Me Down, has a nice groove with Vaughan and Pope playing comfortably in the pocket, while Monroe s hubby, drummer Rick Allen (Def Leppard) does a superb job of accompanying Monroe, rather than overpowering her vocals with heavy beats. Unmistakably, it is Monroe s soulful vocals are what give this song its magic. She is supported by Moon Calhoun, Brenda Lee Eager and CC Bass' background vocals, on a tune that has you singing along with the chorus, the first time that you hear it. When you read our soon to be published interview with Lauren Monroe, you will understand why she can sing about love with so much authenticity.
The funky, Way To Burn, with its staccato beat and John Thomas up-tempo piano keys had my toe tapping the first time I heard this song. Vaughan and Monroe constructed a pretty melody, and have laid it over some deep purple (no not the group) organ grooves, which again come to us courtesy of Thomas. There are other musicians on this song, but Thomas and Monroe are the ones who have inscribed the words, hit song, on Way To Burn.
If you are a fan of the blues and hand played percussion, then you are going to love Black River, a ballad which boasts some fabulous hand beats as Monroe accompanies herself on the djembe, and stunning organ vibes from Thomas. Once again, it is Monroe s soulful vocals that make this song something that is very special. This time she is successful in creating a Mississippi Delta ambience. As this disc continues to spin, you never get the sense that the singer or any of the musicians are in competition with one another, but instead they compliment each other. The three tracks that we have mentioned and in particular, Black River, create the feel of a live performance. The listener gets the sense that you are sitting in on a jam session, or an open section in a live concert. If Lauren Monroe and her band are this good in the studio, I can t wait to hear them live.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention the tremendous vocal performance by Moon Calhoun, Brenda Lee Eager and C.C. Bass, as they harmonize while providing backup vocals for the track Freedom Song.
We have focused on only three tracks from The Freedom Sessions, but rest assured there are not any weak tracks on this album. My bet is, once you sample Lauren Monroe s music on her myspace site, or listen to her song Black River, through Riveting Riffs jukebox, you will soon be reaching for your credit card, so you can download this splendid album. The Freedom Sessions is one of the best CDs to cross my desk this year.
If justice prevails over politics, The Freedom Sessions should receive a Grammy Award nomination. --RivetingRiffs.com
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Lauren Monroe grew up around music. Her father was a gregarious singer who belted out show tunes for the neighborhood, and her grandfather was a bluegrass-loving fiddler who handed Lauren her first guitar at age six.
Her progressive parents were learning transcendental meditation and Lauren was meditating regularly by age five. At that early age she also discovered her gift of healing and music became a way to channel these unexpressed experiences of connection.
Surrounded by bluegrass, folk rock and other roots music, Lauren soon wrote her first Americana-flavored compositions, and started a lifelong path as a vocalist, songwriter, and musician. The Catholic folk masses she attended as a child inspired her to use music as an offering.
As she grew as a musician, Lauren also explored multi-denominational and cultural experiences of music, faith, and community healing. She traveled the world working with healers from all traditions – Maoris, Benedictine monks, North and South American shamen and Hindu masters, eventually becoming a cross-culturally trained healer.
Lauren began performing on acoustic guitar in San Francisco in 1992. Later she moved to Boulder, Colorado and formed her band, Coy Kindred. The band traveled throughout the Western United States, playing its rugged blend of rock, blues and funk at festivals, theaters and saloons.
Lauren began working on her solo debut album, The Freedom Sessions, in Boulder, and completed it after moving to Malibu, California, where she lives with her husband, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen. The Freedom Sessions is the fulfillment of a goal that Lauren first identified in childhood – that she was meant to share her experiences of the mystical world.
Lauren’s desire for learning and sharing experiences of healing has allowed her to help people worldwide. She is the co-founder of Raven Drum Foundation (www.ravendrumfoundation.org), where she facilitates healing drum and empowerment circles in the U.S. and abroad, as well as promoting and co-teaching trauma resiliency work with Iraqi vets.