Love on the Rocks
by Lauren Anderson
Engineer: Taylor Lonardo
Recorder At: Taylor Lonardo Studios
Mastered By: Taylor Lonardo
About the Album
Lauren Anderson isn’t shy about sharing her influences. Indeed, there have been any number of classic and contemporary artists that have left an indelible impression on the musical mantra she’s pursued over the course of her career — Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Eva Cassidy, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, and the Pointer Sisters, among them. Yet, at the same time, Anderson isn’t bound to any particular parameters. Instead she’s managed to incorporate those influences into a pursuit of her own passion. It’s a musical journey that continues to flourish, bringing her growing recognition as a celebrated singer and songwriter with her own contemporary credence.
That trajectory has accelerated rapidly over the course of the past seven years with the release of three EPs — Do & Hope, The Game and Won’t Stay Down — and her first full-length album, 2015’s Truly Me. In the meantime, the accolades have kept coming. She was named the 2015 Female Vocalist of the Year by the Midwest Music Awards, took a first-place finish in the 2018 Wing Dang Doodle Competition and watched with pride as The Game became entrenched in the Top 50 of the Billboard Blues chart five weeks in a row.
The press took notice as well. Blues Blast Magazine described said of her, “Lauren has a strong voice with touch of grit.” Rhythm & Booze noted that she has “ a fabulous powerhouse voice you can’t ignore.” Another publication noted: ”With one foot planted in the territory of her influences and the other pointed in an unexplored direction, she straddles the border between blues, soul, and guitar-driven rock & roll, finding her own sound somewhere in the middle."
Meanwhile, Anderson’s expanded her following while continuing to reap that critical acclaim. A determined dynamo of a performer adept at both blues and ballads, she’s ready to add to those accolades with her upcoming album Love On the Rocks, her most fully realized effort to date. Self-produced and due for independent release this summer, it will be preceded by four singles slated to appear each month prior to the entire album’s appearance in August — “Stand Still” (April), “Back to Chicago” (May), “Holdin’ Me Down” (June), and “Love On the Rocks” (July). Each offering finds her expounding on the soulful, seductive style that allows her to break down the boundaries between rock, blues and classic R&B.
Not surprisingly then, the new album fully reflects her own singular sound, courtesy of a varied set of songs that mostly draw from her own experience. Seven of the nine tracks were written during the pandemic, when Anderson claims she wrote a song a day for three weeks in a row.
“Keep On,” the first of the singles, is a wailing and riveting gospel-sounding entry. It was accompanied by a music video that included stark images of the pandemic: https://youtu.be/dMkF04TOUSo.
She describes the stoic yet soulful “Stand Still” as a more Americana-sounding song, but the message resonates as well. “It’s about what it feels like when you’re stuck and not going anywhere,” Anderson says. “Still, that’s okay when you’re there with someone you love.”
Anderson calls “Love on the Rocks,” a co-write with Sandy Ramos and Laureen Smith, a true collaborative effort. “I came up with the chorus, but then I got stuck so I brought it to those two ladies and together we finished the song,” she recalls. “Ironically, this was the last song I chose to include on this album, and when the band and I went into the studio, we had yet to run through it together at that point. I wasn’t sure how it would sound with the full band, but as soon as everyone started jamming on it, it came alive. I chose to make it the title track, and it quickly became one of my favorite songs on the album.”
The subtle yet sensual “Holdin’ Me Down” falls under the category of a break-up song. “I sent my guys an acoustic version, and when we got together to run through it before going into the studio, Hutch, my bassist, came with this badass guitar part,” Anderson explains. “It really solidifies the soulful 90’s-sounding R&B vibe that the song seemed to call for.”
Other highlights include “Back to Chicago,” a performance that combines Anderson’s robust vocals and a sassy, soulful strut with some ripping fretwork from special guest and guitar great Mike Zito. “I’m Done” and “Just F***ing Begun” are propulsive rockers that allow the energy to soar into the stratosphere. On the other hand, the easy sway of “The Way I Want” and the resilient resolve implied by “Your Turn” help provide a decided shift in tone and tempo.
“This album is very true to me,” Anderson reflects. “I was trying to consciously choose songs for this album that worked well together. I definitely feel like I pulled from some of my seminal influences and was able to find them a fit on each of these tunes.”
More about Lauren Anderson:
It’s hardly surprisingly then that music has been a vital part of Anderson’s life since early on. Born in Chicago, her interests were nourished by a family where music played an important part. She first delved into it at the age of eight when she began taking classical piano lessons. That, in turn, led her to sing in a choir and eventually undertake classical voice training while still in high school. After attaining a bachelors degree in music, she earned a Masters Degree in Music Therapy from the University of Kansas.
Following her graduation in 2012, she became a music therapist, working with children and at-risk youth. Yet while she relished the experience, she began to realize that live performance was her true calling. She briefly considered becoming an opera singer, but quickly decided that the world of popular music was more suited to her style. At first she performed solo, but later she shared her talents with a band. Then, after recording a pair of singles at the iconic Ocean Way Studio’s on Nashville’s famed Music Row, she decided to make a permanent move from Kansas City to Music City in 2017. She now tours full time and continues to make music with an energy and enthusiasm that’s fully invested in the new album.
Love on the Rocks — At a Glance:
All songs written by Lauren Anderson
“Love on the Rocks” co-written by Sandy Ramos & Laureen Smith
Produced by Lauren Anderson with assistance from the musicians and Taylor Lonardo
Recorded at Taylor Lonardo Studios
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Taylor Lonardo
Drums - Matt Doctor
Bass - Hutch
Guitar - Jimi Greene
Keys/Organ - Kiran Gupta
Strings - Jon and Liz Estes
Guest Guitarist on "Back to Chicago" - Mike Zito