Laura Merrimen & The Hard Tickets
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Laura Merrimen & The Hard Tickets

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | SELF

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | SELF
Band Americana Rock

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"In The Dead of Winter "Laura Merrimen""

For the past year, Laura Merrimen and the Lonesome Travellers have been mixing up alt-country and blues rock for delighted local audiences. After having gone through a few line-up changes, the band is currently recording a full-length LP under the aegis of Halifax blues master Brad Conrad. Merrimen, a Hubbards native with a 10-gallon voice that recalls the twang of Gillian Welch and the timbre of Jann Arden, credits her upbringing in a musical home for placing her on the path towards full-time musicianship. "Both my parents were musicians," she says. She'll be taking to the stage next weekend with her guitar and harmonicas to dish out a mix of band and solo material. Absent will be the blistering pentatonics and creeping bass of the Travellers: Instead, expect something soft and bluegrassy. "It's definitely going to be a little bit folksier," says Merrimen. (MA)
Songwriters' circle w/Steven Bowers, Dan Ledwell, Friday at FRED, 9pm, $7-$20 (all-venue pass). Saturday at the Italian Cultural Centre, 4:30pm, $10-$25 (all-venue pass).
 - The Coast


"'Love Letters For Lonely Hunters' Album Review"


Laura Merrimen

Love Letters for Lonely Hunters

Laura Merrimen is from the east coast of Canada, Nova Scotia, and with her debut 'Love Letters for Lonely Hunters' she shares an ever growing row of promising female singer-songwriters. Mostly she reminds me of singers like Kathleen Edwards and Lucinda Williams, although with this album she doesn't reach the phenomenal quality of their debuts. But even at first listening it gets clear that this 26-year old is very talented and with a group of fine musicians she delivers an album that makes you hope that it won't get unnoticed with the very large group of 'americana'-lovers. In her mostly personal and rather direct lyrics intelligent observations appear and when emotion rises she knows how to prevent sentimentalism by using a twist in the lyrics or in the music. She can make heavy turns with her music, but is also able to evoke an intimite feeling, as in the lovely Closer to the Door, one of the strongest tracks, in which she reminds me of Romi Mayes.

'Love Letters for Lonely Hunters' also discerns itself from the mediocre americana crowd by lots of subtle variations in the accompaniment and the use of not really everyday instruments, that can take songs to a higher level. Most illustrative is 'Time', that pleases through the use of an old pump organ played by Ian Mosher and the accordian by Erin Costelo. This is done in a more subtle way in other songs, by using a hammond or Farfisa organ, a xylophone or tambourine. Listen to 'Stand Alone', in which song the hammond organ supplements the electric guitar beautifully. The variability that results from this instrumentation doesn't diminish the coherence of the album, it's more like the numerous color nuances you see in a wood in autumn. This all makes this record a very enjoyable one and it masks some less convincing songs, that occur inevatibly in a debut album like this.

I guess 'Love Letters for Lonely Hunters' could be the start of a glorious career and I must say I'm whoheartedly indulging this to Laura. At the same time you can't but admit that momentarily within this genre quite a lot of artists are asking for the attention of listeners and there's always a chance she's doomed to make her music in obscurity. When she succeeds in pursuing this path and keeps working with this group of musicians, I'd optimistically bet for the first possibility and it would be highly deserved.

John Smits

- Altcountryfourm & Johnnysgarden (Netherlands)


"Herohill Album Review"

Reviews:: Laura Merrimen Love Letters for Lonely Hunters

For those relatively unfamiliar with the South Shore of Nova Scotia, spending a few hours driving through the region probably tells you more than a history book or wiki entry ever could. The stretch of coastal land was one of the earliest European settlements, but in the last few years has become one of NS biggest tourist retreats, full of beautiful cottages nestled up to jagged coastlines and tiny inlets filled with gently bobbing fishing boats and buoys.

On even the most casual glance, you'd fall in love with the region, and to be honest, many out-of-towners already have. Every free plot has been snatched up by Ontario and American visitors looking for "cheap" summer homes, and mom and pop diners were forced to step aside to make way for trendy cafes, restaurants and shops. The quaint cottages and small town store fronts dominate your view, but the history of the region and its foundations are still there. All you have to do is listen.

The same can be said about the current obsession with neo-country and roots music. It seems everyone wants to take a kick at the can and revisit the past with their new work. It may all sound authentic, but when you really listen, very few get it right. Young Laura Merrimen is one of those precious few. There are obvious jump off points – her voice and delivery on the opening track (Go On Now), should hit home with any Kathleen Edwards fan and Merrimen has obviously listened to Gillian Welch’s catalog – but for an artist that refuses to use cheap hooks as an easy way out, trying to find an easy comparison seems like a slap.

From her smoky voice to her vintage arrangements, it’s obvious Merrimen appreciates the history of the music she plays and probably grew up listening to classic records instead of simply mining influences from a thrift store find she stumbled upon last year. The South Shore born singer doesn’t speed along the road looking for the pretty picture, no, she prefers to head off the road most traveled. Instead of clever narratives and foot stomping country pop melodies served with side orders of slide and harmonica, Merrimen offers up heavy subject matter and heart felt emotions, refusing to soften the blow for the listener.

The slow moving Stand Alone barely gets passed a crawl, and Merrimen’s husky voice floats out as if propelled by her last breath. When she asks, “Can you hear what your heart’s saying now? Is it only beating for ow…own blood now?” you fixate on the pain and empathize feeling your own heart start to tear at the seams. It's only when you keep listening that you hear the subtleties of the tear jerker, like the gentle, barely audible organ that dances in the distance. Merrimen has the charisma to carry the simplest of arrangements and handle the tenderest of emotions. Laura's voice dominates the touching Keepin' it Low, a song that shouldn't be as interesting as she makes it and when she sings about a low income family barely getting by (Too Many Nights) or a broken heart, you believe her.

What I really love about this record though, are the chances she takes. Closer to the Door could have been found on a slab of acetate from the 50’s, but again she freshens out the melancholy with the aid of an organ and a big electric solo - to keep the 11 songs from blending. With some help from her Guthrie heavy backing band (and Dan Hache's aggressive guitar work) she handles more muscular sounds effortlessly, but never lets go of the reins tight and makes you stick with her, listening to her words instead of stomping along to familiar riffs. Keep an ear out for this up & comer from NS.
- Herohill


Discography

'Love Letters For Lonely Hunters' 2009 Full Length

'Midnight Roll' 2012 Full Length

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Bio

Laura Merrimen is a prolific writer who delivers soulful catchy songs with provoking truthful lyrics. A country girl at heart with a weakness for the big city lights, her music spans those highway lines with her Americana roots and Rock n' Roll know how.

Her first album 'Love Letters For Lonely Hunters' won 2010's Music N.S. award for Country Recording of the Year and was nominated for Female Recording of the Year. She has opened for many including Matt Mays, The Novaks, The Deep Dark Woods and Stephen Fearing.

Currently Merrimen and her band The Hard Tickets have just released their second album 'Midnight Roll'. Co-produced by Merrimen and drummer Brian Murray, it is a spiritual journey into the realm of keep on keepin on.. two dashes of heartache, three shakes of salt and a half tank of gas.