Orchestral touches power Laura Pursell’s new album

Reviewed by Brooke Curtis

Laura Pursell/Somewhere in this Room

Singer/songwriter Laura Pursell has never been on my radar before but she certainly will be after hearing Somewhere in this Room. Unlike most solo projects, this seems to be more of a collaboration between her and her producer Andrew Bonime, who arranged and co-wrote these lovely songs. In other words, this is no mere folk or acoustic confessional, stripped down to its basic ingredients. Bonime has gifted Pursell as massive lens in which to shoot with. This isn’t just a record a with a girl and a guitar but a girl with the power of an orchestra behind her. Violins, cellos, violas, French horns, saxophones, oboes, and organs complement the basic guitar/bass/drums set-up. Actually, complement is an understatement; they elevate these songs to another level.

Those who prefer the less-is-more standard of today’s pop craftsmanship might be puzzled by all the added instrumentation here, but Pursell and Bonime are reaching for the artistic heights set by the jazz and soul artists of the past when having a Big Band behind you was considered cool. It certainly is a breath of fresh air, and not everything on Somewhere in this Room climbs to such mountainous extremes. The softly melodic “It Might As Well Be Magic” bridges together folk and smooth jazz with subtlety and technical precision while “Skywriting Neon Lights” is reminiscent of Heart’s vintage mellow-yellow dreaminess. The rainy-afternoon melancholy of “My Heart Knows You Were Here” plumbs the depths of Pursell’s heartbroken emotional state after a friend’s suicide. It’ll leave you knocked to the ground.

http://www.somewhereinthisroom.com

Vonnie Scott gives Christian rock the grit of classic Heart and Janis Joplin

 

Reviewed by Carson James

Vonnie Scott/Beckon Call

Singer/songwriter Vonnie Scott may sound like vintage Heart, Janis Joplin, and Melissa Etheridge at times, but lyrically she is in another zone. What may not be immediately apparent, if you just absorb her music on the surface level, is that Scott is a Christian artist. Songs such as “The Well” and “Rest in You” instantly recall the Heart of old, especially the tough-girl grit of Scott’s vocals, but the words are definitely of a spiritual nature. And with so many Christian artists mining the same secular modern pop/rock influences for a larger audience, it is certainly welcome. Consider Scott then an alternative to the usual Christian alternative.

“The Well” is propelled by sharp acoustic riffs and robust drumming; however, the focus becomes Scott’s powerful pipes, knocking over speakers with its big rock kicks. If you’re going to sing for the Lord, raise your voice. On “My Essence” and “If I Touched You,” Scott shows that she is able to plumb the subtleties of human emotion, declaring her spiritual faith with the dreamy softness of a candlelit prayer. Beckon Call is highly recommended to fans of contemporary Christian music as well as those who miss the rootsy FM sounds of the ’70s. 

http://www.scottiemusic.com