October 14th, 2021 7pm Stage 3
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Lauren Balthrop, a folk-pop singer songwriter hailing from Nashville, has a crystal-fueled voice. She is currently hard at work on her 2nd album produced by Nick Kinsey (of Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby) and is planning for an early 2022 release.
In 2020, she found herself stuck at home along with the whole world while a pandemic raged and the US battled with the consequences of its racist history. Lost without a cause, Lauren put her efforts toward creating a protest EP that would raise funds for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Where Is Love protest EP release on Martin Luther King Jr day in January of 2021.
Her debut album, THIS TIME AROUND, released in late 2018 on Tone Tree Music, is a dreamy pop album, produced by Josh Kaufman (of Bonny Light Horseman, Taylor Swift, Bob Weir, The National, Hiss Golden Messenger). The album described by Audio Femme as "the bittersweet sensation of a person, a moment, a time in your life disappearing" is beguiling in its honesty, rich in dark sonic beauty and above all, devilishly playful.
Since the album's release, Balthrop has been busy on tour with Kevin Morby, and in the past she has also worked with Bob Weir, Benjamin Booker, Elizabeth & the Catapult, Dawn Landes, Ximena Sariñana and more. She was also a member of the excellent doo-wop trio Bandana Splits, and in 2013 Balthrop released an album under the name Dear Georgiana winning attention from Stereogum who called her songs "absolutely lovely".
This Time Around chronicles the story of an uprooted soul. Feeling spun out of orbit, tumbling, accidents, and loss of control are recurring themes yet Balthrop finds solace in the chaos of love. There is a sneaky confidence in Balthrop’s vocals – all honey and soaring – almost as if she feels most at ease when her heart is dizzy. Each track on the album oscillates between the moodiness of experimental dark folk instrumentation, and the levity of Balthrop’s crystal-fueled voice.
From the magical realism and twisted fairy tale-nature of “Maple Tree” to the fuzzed out guitar of “Don’t Ever Forget,” and the drunken carousel-esque swooning of “Tumbleweed,” This Time Around is the poster child for rich, subversive pop music. At times Balthrop hits Beatles-like pop hooks and harmonies, and beats that would make Petty nod from the heavens.
“We Fell” stands out as one of the most spare and beautiful tracks, inspired by the twilight of a relationship. The song is a somber waltz, lamenting the way lovers gamble their hearts, repeatedly. Kaufman and Balthrop have plenty of production tricks up their sleeves: a tambourine begins to rattle like a shackled ghost; these songs never behave like they should.
This Time Around is not overtly a political statement, but it’s impossible not to make a connection between the current global instability and Balthrop’s thematic focus on feeling spun out of orbit. The opening track, “Down,” was initially written as a response to political uncertainty and morphed from protest to love song. Balthrop holds love as the party line throughout, and her heart’s never-ending quest can be re-read as a pro-peace battle cry.
“When I’m on my death bed,” Balthrop says, “the only questions I will ask myself are: how did I love, how much, and could I have loved more?” This Time Around is a profound statement on finding beauty in chaos and refusing to hide your heart. Above all, Balthrop insists that we dance, especially when it’s dark.
With Balthrop at the helm, This Time Around features an all-star cast: Peter Lalish (Lucius, Uni Ika Ai) on guitar, Jason Lawrence on drums (Jesse Marchant, The Building), Josh Kaufman on bass, Karen Waltuch (Wilco) on strings, Elizabeth Ziman (Elizabeth & the Catapult) on backing vocals, Annie Nero (A. Nero) on backing vocals, Lucas Madrazo (Inland Traveler) on backing vocals, Maia Friedman (Uni Ika Ai, Dirty Projectors) on backing vocals and Tom Krueger on backing vocals. This Time Around was released September 21,2018 via Tone Tree Music.