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Laura Love


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Folk-rock mixed with diverse styles such as jazz, blues, funk, and hip-hop (JoAnn Whetsell)

From her website: She is an African-American funk bassist with an astonishing voice, who is greatly influenced by blues and bluegrass, jazz, folk, gospel, reggae and country. Laura sometimes refers to her style as "folk-funk", "Afro-Celtic" or "hip-Alachian".

Status:

Most recent release, NEVABAWARLDAPECE (EP, 2013)

See also:

Laura Love's site

Comparisons:

Her voice is a little bit like Toni Childs'. But the only person I can think of who has the energy and the range (and political passion) is Ani Difranco. They have things in common but musically are quite different. Perhaps what Ani would be like if she were rooted in African-American music. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Covers/own material:

Own and co-written, occasional cover

General comments:

A most energetic goddess. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Laura Love is a fusion artist, mixing the music of her ethnic heritages with folk, bluegrass, and just about every style of American music that exists. She's equally at home covering songs by Laura Nyro and Kurt Cobain and reinterpreting traditionals such as "Shenandoah" and "Hard Times" as she is penning new songs. Many of her lyrics are political, feminist, socially conscious. If it sounds like she's all over the map, she is, but with a voice and sensibility that make everything she does uniquely her own. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Comments about live performance:

Laura Love and her band (Julie Wolf, Rod Cook, and Chris somebody-or-other) were at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Sunday night, and boy, do they ever know how to rock. I'd had the new album Octoroon in my car for a few days and hadn't had a chance to listen to it yet, but I knew from the songs I'd been hearing on the radio that it's a great piece of work (an opinion since confirmed by several listens to the disc), her best by far since Pangaea.
     Live, the band just blew everyone away. The set started with an a cappella tune from the new album, then jumped into an energetic rendition of "Anyway" from Pangaea, and kept up the intensity from there. In between songs, Laura and her guitarist/tongue drummer/accordion player/backing vocalist Julie Wolf engaged in truly goofy banter straight out of the Ani Difranco School Of Stage Performance that had the audience literally rolling in the aisles. And the musicianship was just superb.
     Multi-instrumentalist Julie Wolf is a great singer and songwriter in her own right, and the band performed one of her songs, which was really bluesy and good. Rod Cook is a kickass guitarist, and he had a stunning solo in almost every song. The band performed one of his songs too, which was also pretty good, but the best were definitely Laura's own compositions, brought toe-tappingly to life by those amazing musicians on the stage there with her. However, lest we forget that Laura herself is a pretty damn good bass player, she took a solo turn at Nirvana's "Come As You Are" (also on Octoroon), accompanying herself on the bass.
     I highly recommend The Laura Love Band to any and every ectophile who loves to groove in their seats (or in the aisles, or wherever works) during a show. (6/97, meth@smoe.org)

I just saw Laura a few weeks ago and she still put on an exciting show. It did seem a touch nicer then I remembered in years past, and Laura definitely LOOKS nicer, in an Oprah 'do rather then the long braided hair of Octoroon. (9/03, neal)

I saw Laura Love do a reading/performance at a Seattle bookstore promoting her new memoir and cd, both titled You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes. She sat on a chair and read and played bass, accompanied by guitarist/vocalist Jen Todd. A lovely way to do a reading. Read for a while, play a song, read some more, another song.... Laura is a very engaging reader, and she does voices wonderfully. Jen Todd is also quite good, and funny too. They make a great duo. Hearing the stories behind the songs first, you can really hear the stories in the lyrics. She reads from the book, sings from the album, and ends, by request, with a love song to George Bush, "I Want You Gone," one of the best anti-Bush songs I've heard. (8/04)
     Laura Love and her band (Jen Todd, Rod Cook, and Chris Leighton) put on a great show at the Island Hall on Bainbridge Island (WA). Laura told us we looked good, the drummer started a beat, Laura started dancing, and they launched into "Blind Bartimus." The energy never let up. I'm always amazed by how many different ways Laura can use her voice—wild, soft, harsh, sweet. She's also very funny—her facial expressions, the way she interacts with the band and the audience, the silly voices and accents she adopts.
     I was disappointed that she only did one song from Fourteen Days, but happy to hear so many of her older songs, as well as some songs I didn't know and two written by band members. "Mahbootay" was played with a sensual Latinized groove and an extended display of the title subject. As essential as the ferry she called it. "Hard Times" had lots of beautiful harmonization at the end. The concert really made me appreciate her latest album much more. It was a fantastic show—full of laughter, silliness, politics, and of course, great music, including audience singa-longs and even yodel-a-longs. An experience truly not to be missed. (1/05, JoAnn.Whetsell)

Recommended first album:

Octoroon or Fourteen Days

Recordings:


The Laura Love Collection

Release info:

1995—Putumayo World Music—M118-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—lead vocal, background vocals, bass guitar, vocal arrangements

Guest artists:

Linda Severt—acoustic rhythm guitar, percussion, tongue drum, pennywhistle, ocarina, acoustic guitar, background vocals, vocal arrangements
Rod Cook—acoustic and electric lead and rhythm guitar, National Steel guitar, mandolin, background vocals
Ben Smith—drums
Barbara Lamb—fiddle
Orville Johnson—dobro, mandolin, banjo

Produced by:

Dan Storper

Comments:

This collection is comprised of songs from Laura Love's first two albums. It's a good introduction to her work, and it makes sense that it's on the Putumayo label as the selections showcase Laura's varied worldwide influences. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Octoroon

Release info:

1997—Mercury Records—314 534 649-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—lead vocal, backing vocal, bass, hand claps

Guest artists:

Rod Cook—backing vocal, acoustic guitars, national steel guitar, electric guitars, guitars
Julie Wolf—backing vocal (1–4, 7, 8, 12), accordion, tongue drum, piano, rhythm guitar
Chris Leighton—drums, percussion, anvil, congas, steel drum, maracas, tabla
Hans Teuber—alto, tenor saxophones
Jay Thomas—trumpet
Mari Gearhart—backing vocal (2)
Barbara Lamb—fiddle
Chris Cioffi—banjo
Linda Severt—cheng, ocarina
Lori Goldston—cello
Frank Smith—backing vocal (5)
Dick Powell—harmonica

Produced by:

Laura Love

Comments:

I came to this album late and had a little trouble getting into it, but now I think it's up there with Laura's best work and one of her essential albums. Why? It's hard to describe. Which is a good thing. Of all of Laura's albums I've heard, I find Octoroon the hardest to describe because it probably has the widest variety of styles. It grooves hardest too. There's a bluegrassy "Amazing Grace," a gospel "Blind Bartimus," a Kurt Cobain cover ("Come As You Are"), and political songs covering slave auctions ("Octoroon"), the Tiananmen Square massacre ("June 4th Foundation"), and same-sex love ("If I Knew"). But that description doesn't hint at the energy and passion of the album. For that you'll just have to listen to it. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Shum Ticky

Release info:

1998—Mercury Records—314 558 866-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—lead vocal, backing vocal, bass, additional lyrics (4)

Guest artists:

Rod Cook—backing vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, National steel, Tacoma Papoose, and Guild D35 acoustic guitars, bass
Barbara Lamb—backing vocal, fiddle, baritone fiddle
Chris Leighton—drums, percussion, tongue drum, Maytag clothes dryer
Sir Mix-A-Lot—rap, vocal improvisation (4)
Orville Johnson—dobro
Frankie Blue—drum loop, synth horn and bass sequencing
Charley Rowan—piano, pump organ
Julie Wolf—accordion
Dan Tyack—pedal steel guitar
Joe Hadlock—Hammond organ
Evan Brubaker, Holly Deye, Linda Fane, Jonathan Kingham, David Lamb, Mary McFaul, Jamie Robinson, Lisa Winston, Marcus Winston, Sacheen Winston—Friends & Family choir (12)

Produced by:

Laura Love, Joe Chicarelli

Comments:

Laura Love is one of those performers of such high energy that studio albums kinda pale with respect to a live performance. However, Shum Ticky comes close to capturing some of the magic of Laura love and her band. Laura stays true to her self-described Afro-Celtic description and puts together a fine collection of new and previously released material. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Finally, I have heard a lot about Laura Love on this list but never explored her music. I heard a new song by her on WXPN (World Cafe) yesterday, which I truly loved. And it was announced that the song was co-written by Sir Mixalot?! ("Baby Got Back"!) It was a funky, fun song. I'm going to have to buy this record. (bravegirl@earthlink.net)

What was the deal with Laura's Shum Ticky? Her most recent, it contains versions of songs already released, and has a lot more playful and, well, almost silly atmosphere than Octoroon. I've taken to referring to it as her "Sesame Street album". Is there some concept at work, here, that I've missed? (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

A close second as my favorite Laura Love album. It's just got so much energy and sooo much attitude. "Mahbootay" is a great example of Laura's ability to combine social politics, humor, and great grooves. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Fourteen Days

Release info:

2000—Zoë Records—01143-1015-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—vocals, bass

Guest artists:

Rod Cook—vocal, acoustic, electric, National steel, and electric slide guitars
Jennifer Todd—vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin
Barbara Lamb—fiddle
Jon Goforth—flute, saxophone
Chris Leighton—drums, conga, percussion, horn concept, tabla, Maytag dryer, railroad spike
Mary McFaul—mandolin
Steve Mostovoy—trumpet
Gary Shutes—trombone
Nova Devonie—accordion
Dick Powell—harmonica
Steve Berlin—baritone saxophone, sax synth

Produced by:

Joe Chicarelli and Laura Love

Comments:

My first Laura Love album, and still my favorite. Yet I don't know quite how to describe it. It's got a bit of everything—politics ("In Seattle," "Sativa"), folk ("Shenandoah"), and a lot of the unclassifiable mixture of styles that defines her music. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Welcome to Pagan Place

Release info:

2003—KOCH Records—CD 8478

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

One of the best of 2003. One song stands out in my mind amid the sad behavior of the United States since 9-11. That song is by Laura Love, titled "I Want You Gone" dedicated to George Bush. Laura was the first artist I heard speak out against the US policy and it just resonated with me. I could not have expressed my feeling any more clearly. I want to thank Laura Love for speaking out against the insanity of a nation gone asleep. (jsutton@rahul.net)

A major disappointment from the woman who brought us the blistering, impassioned Octoroon. Her politics are still radical, but even her protest song, in which she sings "I'm tired of being pretty, I'm tired of being nice" is...well, pretty and nice. It's a toothless and insipid work, and even the Laura Love newsgroup, who usually fall over themselves to praise anything she does, have been suspiciously silent about it. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes

Release info:

2004—KOCH Records—KOC-CD-9553

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—lead vocals, electric bass

Guest artists:

Jen Todd—additional lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitar, djembe
Rod Cook—acoustic and electric lead and rhythm guitars
Chris Leighton—drums and percussion
Orville Johnson—dobro, banjo
David Lange—piano, accordion, synthesizers

Produced by:

Laura Love with David Lange

Comments:

The companion to the memoir of the same name. It's certainly not necessary to read the book to enjoy the album as the songs tell stories. Easter Clothes is more personal, more folky, perhaps a bit more tame, but just as heartfelt and just as good as Laura's previous work. She ends with beautiful harmonies on the traditional "Hard Times" and the gospel-influenced "Satisfied," telling us how she feels about her life now and giving a difficult story a happy ending. (JoAnn Whetsell)

NeGrass

Release info:

2007—Octoroon Biography—OBCD005

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Love—vocal, electric bass

Guest artists:

Jeff Autry—guitar, vocal
Mike Bub—upright bass, vocal
Barbara Lamb—fiddle, vocal
Tim O'Brien—vocal, mandolin, bouzouki
Scott Vestal—banjo, jaw harp, vocal
Rob Ickes—resonator guitar, slide guitar
Tracy Nelson—vocal (7, 12)
Alice Vestal—vocal (7)

Produced by:

Barbara Lamb and Laura Love

Comments:

A great collection of traditionals, spirituals and originals with a heavy bluegrass sound. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Laura Love's songs appear on the following albums: Shelter: The Best of Contemporary Singer-Songwriters (1994), Women's Work (1996), Travel the World with Putumayo (1997), Voce—Music From Women Of The World (1999). In 1995 she also released an album with Jo Miller called Jo Miller and Laura Love Sing Bluegrass and Old-Time Music and was part of the quartet Venus Envy which released the cd I'll Be a Homo for Christmas. She is also the author of the memoir, You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes, a companion to the album of the same name.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2015-04-17 23:33:08.
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