Album Reviews

Lauren Mitchell

Desire

Artist:     Lauren Mitchell

Album:     Desire

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     03/31/ 2017

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Lauren Mitchell hails from the Tampa Bay area and is stepping on to the national stage with this effort showcasing her sturdy, growling, wailing natural blues voice. Making this album was a cathartic experience for Mitchell, reeling from both the breakup of her marriage and band. She chose recording partners wisely, enlisting the support of in-demand producer/drummer Tony Braunagel (yes, here he is again) and his top shelf West Coast session players who include guitarists Johnny Lee Schell, Josh Sklair, and Jose Ramirez along with keyboardist Jim Pugh, iconic bassist Reggie McBride, the Phantom Blues Band horns of Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett, among others.

Mitchell lays down a mix of originals, hand-picked songs from friends, and covers of tunes associated with Etta James, Bettye LaVette, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Betty Davis. Buoyed by the recording experience, Mitchell says. “The blues is a song of victory. It’s a way to say, ‘I’m over it,’ and now I’m turning it into this beautiful thing that can help someone else heal. That’s what this record is for me.”

Mitchell has a no-nonsense, brash approach, putting her past behind her with the opening “I Don’t Need Nobody.” Immediately convincing, she smoothly transitions into her original, the danceable, breezy “Soul Music.” Two songs into the album, I was hooked. The title track, another original, features the blistering slide guitar of Steve Fister. It’s a track she had been working on for over two years but was somehow unable to finish it before meeting Jeff Paris, who took her thoughts and emailed a demo to her the next morning. Amazingly, considering that Mitchell had never sung the finished product, it was cut in just one take.

She’s at her growling sensual best for “Jump Into My Fire” and slows it all down for the smoldering “Good To Me As I Am To You.” As the album unfolds, she reveals a nice mix of blues and soul, mostly horn-driven, and many with a cast of background singers. She finishes strong with two of her own, the slow blues of “Lead Me On” and the swaggering “Brown Liquor.”

Guitarist Josh Sklair, producer for Etta James has said, “I miss Etta a little less when I hear Lauren sing.” Welcome to the big stage, Lauren Mitchell. You’ve earned it, and hopefully you’ll be here for a good, long time.

—Jim Hynes

 

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