Lauren Sheehan, |
(Wilson River, 2005)
Lauren Sheehan doesn't sing songs of eternal devotion or sparkling moments of infatuation. Her favored music is low and blue, stories of hard-luck men and lonely women, spirituals singing of patience in this world and hope for the next. She just happens to be one of the most romantic singers ever to pick up American music.
Romance was never meant just for hearts and flowers and store-bought cards. The original romantic movement meant to link human souls to the flow of nature, to elevate everyday feeling to something sublime. And that's what Sheehan does, with nothing more than the plain words of American folk music and a voice that flows as clear and dark as an underground spring. In her mouth, the "Risin' River Blues" summons a slow flood of dark water, and "Two Wings" takes flight into a stormy sky.
For the most part, Sheehan's vocals make instrumental embellishment almost superfluous, a slight channeling of the easy flow of her song. But Two Wings would lose much of its power without the earthy growl of Phil Wiggins's harmonica. His contribution to songs like the opening "Two Wings" or "Drunk Man Blues" adds much needed attitude and grounds Sheehan's sometimes airy vocals with a touch of rich earth.
Although only two of the songs on the album are her original compositions, Sheehan makes every track on the album hers. Her voice, her pacing, her arrangements turn favorites like "Are You Tired of Me?" or the worn "Red Rocking Chair" into new discoveries, letting the old force of the songs strike fresh. Never mind the words of the title track; Laura Sheehan needs nothing but a voice to fly. But with Two Wings, she soars.
by Sarah Meador