Lauren Housley Girl From The North Lovebird Recordings
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.
Danny and the Champions of the World Los Campeones En Vivo Loose Records
A Welcome Addition to Their Already Wonderful Canon of Work.
Where to start? If you are already a Danny fan you will be buying this Double Album anyway, regardless of what I or anyone else says about it; and if you’re not …… why not? That last bit is a joke btw. Danny and the Champions of the World are a bit of an enigma really; they’ve been around for 14 years (I Googled that) and are now guaranteed to sell out any venue they play across the UK, to an ever growing band of erstwhile and loyal followers who generally found out about them via ‘word of mouth;’ or are dragged along to a gig; and came out two hours later a Born Again Groupie. So far the band have released 5 studio albums; and each one is highly recommended by my very own self; and in 2014 there was another Live Album mysteriously called Live Champs! and subsequently raved about in these very pages; so why another Live Album now? It’s actually not made clear the reasons why; but I’m damn glad those awfully nice chaps and chappesses at Loose Records have turned up this ‘warts n all’ Recording from a heady night in 2018 at the Azkena Festival in Asturias Mountains in Spain; where they claim ‘nobody knew them.’ As per usual the mood is set as early as the opening track, Let The Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know) which cranks up the tension via twinned fuzzy guitars and an industrial strength rhythm section before Danny George Wilson comes at you like a serial killer in a felt hat. You wouldn’t know it from this one enigmatic song, but Champs’ gigs are great fun …… although not ‘laugh out loud fun’ ……. but songs like This Is Not a Love Song and and Stay True which come at you one after the other; are destined to make ‘new fans’ wonder why these kids aren’t topping the bill at Glastonbury with their magic formula and bittersweet songs. They themselves claim their ‘sound’ is Heartland Rock & Soul; and when you hear the crackling versions of It’s Just a Game (That We Were Playing) and Every Beat of My Heart (or Long Distance Tears too) who am I too disagree? But any band that utilises the services of Henry Senior Jr on pedal-steel and Tom Collison on the Honkiest and Tonkiest piano you will hear this year ; obviously has to have a Country Heart too and boy does that come across during Brothers in the Night and during Everything We Need too; when your feet will just have a mind of their own ….. dancing like there’s no tomorrow; which is true too of the finale Restless Feet; which also goes to show how good these cats are at sequencing a show. For a Favourite Song it would be all too easy; and a little bit lazy of me to select either the ever beautiful This Is Not a Love Song or Never Stop Building That Old Space Rocket; which is one of my Favourite Songs of the Century; and this version simply sizzles and simmers so much it made me jealous of all those people hearing it for the very first time that balmy March evening in 2018. No; I’m going for a song that, although not forgotten completely; but seems to have been dusted down and given a fresh lick of paint; and that’s Gotta Get Things Right in My Life, which builds and builds like an incendiary device in a way I’ve not heard it performed before; and like so many other songs here show what a great and highly underrated songwriter Danny George Wilson is. I have a strange relationship with ‘Live Albums’; generally dismissing them now as ‘contractual obligation’ releases; especially the ones that are several nights stitched together; but sometimes the magic of a single live performance is allowed to shine through; and that’s exactly what we get here; a tight band on top form playing in front of a very appreciative and excited audience ……. making it a welcome addition to Danny and the Champions of the World’s rather excellent canon of work.