Girl From The North
A Dusty Springfield for the 21st Century?
A long time coming, but worth the wait.
2021 has seen Lauren Housley not only become a Mum, but she’s also managed to squeeze in recording her next album.
The field of Americana, with which Lauren has mostly been associated is a wide one, and on this release, she reaches out to the edges of that genre and many places beyond and in between too. This musical magpie-ery is far from fragmented though; as this album sees Lauren formulating a mature body of Country-Soul drenched Americana loveliness.
“Bless His Soul” starts things off with pedal steel and twangy reverb-drenched guitar in reflective mode – perhaps an unusual comparison to make, but it is reminiscent of Sheridan Smith’s extremely underrated “A Northern Soul” album of a couple of years back, in both tone and musical style.
The catchily and jangily “Guaranteed Sunshine,” accelerates the album and is everything its title suggests – it’s a West Coast top-down driving anthem that Stevie Nicks would be proud of.
“What’s Troubling You Child” – straight outta South Yorkshire – is deep South of the States Southern Soul; and not for the last time here, the Dusty Springfield influences can be heard here; muted brass and soulful rhythm guitar give it that “Dusty in Memphis” feel, set off by Lauren’s very own gloriously rich voice.
“Sing To Me” which follows, starts with delicate Spanish flavoured guitar and is a song which evokes warm nights and tender romanticism – with Lauren’s vocal delivery being beautifully pitched on this – other singers might have been tempted to a degree of emotional exaggeration, but this is firmly on the side of sincerity and S.O.U.L.
“Breakdown” is of a similar tempo and is a tender homage to coming through the other side of life’s difficulties.
“Two Lovers Lost In Space” takes a trippier approach musically; and fans of the spacy style of Erin Rae (i.e. me) will love it.
There’s a cornucopia of melody on this album, but for me, the one that screams “HIT!!” is “This Ain’t The Life” – a 60’s stop-start beat, layered vocals and a BIG chorus that will work equally well in a club, a large concert hall or just in front of the mirror with a hairbrush – mix them all up and it’s a sonic delight.
“Why Are We Making It So Hard” then takes a turn towards late night reflection , wrapped up in rhetoric and girl group melody. Things stay deep and soulful on “Stay Awake to Dream” – Memphis soaked guitar and keys with washes of pedal steel, provide terrific backing to yet another classy – and classic – vocal.
The album ends on a more up-tempo note with “We’re Not Backing Down” is a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty union, via the American Sound Studio.
It’s absolutely amazing that this album was largely recorded in a Rotherham basement studio – it has the genuine feel of the American South throughout; from the musicians who know this sound and Lauren – who puts a very considerable vocal cherry on top of it all.
There is absolutely no reason at all why this album shouldn’t sell millions, quite honestly – forget limiting labels – it’s a timeless, classic album that puts forward Lauren Housley as a Dusty Springfield for the 21st century.