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Issue 1084

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Review

Lauren Housely: Sweet Surrender (Big Bad Recordings)

Lauren Housely: Sweet Surrender (Big Bad Recordings)

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UK release date 28.08.2015

With Bonnie Ryatt, Stevie Wonder and Ryan Adams among her influences, it would be easy to conclude that the debut full length album from Yorkshire born, soulstress, Lauren Housley would be musically diverse. Since moving to Manchester, Housely began collaborating with co-writer Tom Dibb and released her 2012 E.P “One Step Closer”. Three years on, Housely has launched her own label Big Bad Recordings and a new studio album “Sweet Surrender”, a project that more than holds its own as a solid collection - mixing soul, blues, country and Americana.

Opening with “Nice to See Ya”, its country inspired electric guitars, pounding kicking drum, and subtle vocal twang, conjures images of a bar somewhere in Nashville where the drinks are hard cowboy boots are dirtied up with saw dust, still you can’t mistake the raspy soulful wisdom of her voice that sounds experienced beyond its years. An interesting beginning but one that’s not indicative of the album’s overall sound. On “The Waiting Game” things shift with an effortless Sunday morning easiness where Housley infuses soul, blues guitars and swelling gospel backgrounds to create what could almost be the sonic love child of Joss Stone and Van Morrison.

“If You Were Mine” is by far one of the album’s stand outs. With a pathos filled piano intro that evokes emotion even before a lyric is sung, we are instantly pulled into Lauren’s story of unrequited love. This has the potential to be a modern classic love song, while it has not reinvented these timeless stories of the heart; it manages to tell them with a beautiful honesty. ”Face The World Alone” meanwhile comes from the same palette of simple balladry with sultry vocals and angst ridden pedal steel guitar. Housley’s coming of age story about leaving home in search of independence is a universal one that should resonate with listeners.

“Ghost Town Blues”, the current single however, is a more up-tempo outing with inspirations including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and 60’s percussion reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s “Everything’s Alright”. The combination of creepy lyrical images with a gloriously pop soul hook makes it worth repeated listens.

”When Autumn Came” is probably the album’s most melancholy tune, with its sadness conveyed by Lauren’s almost tearful delivery. The song about seasons falling away and loss feels slightly too dark at times making it one of the album’s rare weak points. “It Ain’t About You” adds some rockabilly punch with an ass kicking, sassy hook with head swivelling attitude that makes it noteworthy purely for fun factor alone. This style suits Lauren’s voice well so hopefully she will explore more on future releases. The finale, “All You Need Is A Friend” brings us home with a memorable, singable hook that closes the album with a sense of warm nostalgia.

Although it’s early days, with “Sweet Surrender” Lauren Housley proves that she has the potential to create music that crosses the genre boundaries of soul, blues and country while being appreciated by mainstream audiences and all the demographics in between.

READ B&S' LATEST LAUREN HOUSELY INTERVIEW
Words Karen Lawler

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