Lauren Houston
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Lauren Houston

Band Americana Folk

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Mar
28
Lauren Houston @ Elk Creek Winery

Owenton, Kentucky, USA

Owenton, Kentucky, USA

Feb
27
Lauren Houston @ Elk Creek Winery

Owenton, Kentucky, USA

Owenton, Kentucky, USA

Feb
06
Lauren Houston @ The Coffee Tree

Frankfort, Kentucky, USA

Frankfort, Kentucky, USA

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Music

Press


Morning View, Kentucky is the home and spiritual base of Lauren Houston. Raised by hard-working parents on classic Rock and Roll and singer-songwriters, Houston developed a taste for performance early on. By the time she was in college she was ready to start performing as part of the Cincinnati-based trio Mr. Dub and the To Be’s, but shortly thereafter began on her own solo journey. Confessional songwriting is Houston’s style. “Six strings and the truth” is the motto on her MySpace page, and Houston walks the walk in every song on her debut album, Roots & Wings.

Roots & Wings is a classic country album with great musicianship, strong songwriting and the plaintive, sweet voice of Lauren Houston, but something truly great is afoot here. It's rare that I make a point of elevating a particular song above the album it comes from, but in this case I must make an exception. Fight This War should put Lauren Houston on the map in a big, big way. It's the ballad of a soldier's wife in a time of war. Houston plays the protagonist here, laying her heart bare as the wife of a soldier ("I'll fight this battle and you fight this war"). The song is astoundingly touching; a heart-breaking look at the thoughts and emotions of the ones left behind. It's patriotic and full of love for the soldier and is a well-told story to boot. If this song ever makes it to popular country radio it might never come out of rotation. At the very least it's the sort of song that should be licensed for movies about or based in the Iraq War/War On Terror that will be made in the coming years.

Sexy Boots is another highly commercial song that should do well for Houston. This is the sort of song that someone like Shania Twain could buy her next mansion with. Lauren Houston has a real knack for pop-country as displayed here, and she can even sing without a backing vocal track! Mason's Daughter goes more a traditional country feel and shows off the sweeter side of Houston's voice in fine fashion. Be sure to check out Can't Get Enough, a poignant love song that holds that same sense of sweetness Houston projects through most of her songs. Other highlights here include Wasted Emotions, You Feel Like Home, Heart In Mind and Mr. Tree. As an afterthought, a country rock mix of Sexy Boots is included to give you an idea of what someone like a Mutt Lange might make of her amazing songs.

Lauren Houston is a talent. She sings, she writes well and she has that down-home girl next door aura that is neither false nor cliché. Roots & Wings should help Lauren Houston ascend the country ladder, and Fight This War could be the song that allows Houston to look at wherever she wants to be and declare that to be the top. If that song ever gets into major distribution there won't be anyone in the business who will argue with her. This is a must have disc for that song alone, but take away Fight This War and it's still a very strong release.



Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Lauren Houston at http://www.lauren-houston.com/ or www.myspace.com/laurenhouston. You can pick up a copy of Roots & Wings at www.cdbaby.com/cd/laurenhouston.
- Wildy's World


12/9/2008
They call Robert Frost the poet of early 20th Century rural America - the master orator of time and space, so eloquently and unpretentiously depicting life around him. A century later and the rural America of Frost slips away ever so quickly that writing seriously about it is almost cliché. Another highway, another sub development, another country home gone. So, it is little surprise when a contemporary song writer and singer from Kentucky like Lauren Houston releases a debut album oozing with true country imagery. I’m not talking about Nashville country here. I’m talking about growing up in the Bluegrass state, absorbing the hills and streams and genuinely being proud about it. I’ve met many great people from Kentucky and they all share one commonality…they simply love their home state. Houston is certainly no exception.

“It ain’t no good unless you build it with your hands” a powerful refrain from her Flatrock Music Festival award-winning original song “Mason’s Daughter,” and an apt metaphor for this entire album. This is hand-made music, and most importantly a heartfelt presentation of an emerging artist pulling influence from the world around her. From top to bottom it is crafted with tender care, seamlessly written, recorded, dubbed, mastered and produced. Punctuated with strong arrangements and well-placed vocal and instrument back up, “Roots & Wings” features Houston front and center on 10 of the 11 tracks, with Wes Petzinger of the Downtown County Band adding his powerful original “Heart In Mind.” Houston also shares songwriting work with Terry Bailey on the wistful “California’s Burning.”

Houston’s velvet voice flows effortlessly throughout “Roots & Wings” and she finds the right way to present it, with a focus on what comes naturally. Back porch, living room style without force, strain or needless flair. It is the kind of singing your favorite musician’s record label won’t let them release. Of course there are moments throughout “Roots & Wings” that showcase Houston’s range, and “Wasted Emotions” comes to mind as a good example.

Just as strong as her voice comes through on this debut, Houston’s song writing prowess is also front in center. The first four tracks on the album are a tour-de-force of her ability to craft beautiful, original music that breaks your heart one moment and forces a smile the next. I’m sure “Fight This War” will be a fan favorite and as noted earlier “Mason’s Daughter” has already brought Houston critical acclaim. But the real triumph on “Roots & Wings” is the genuine diversity of the songs on the album. It is less a grab-bag of originals that Houston has penned over the years as it is a carefully chosen selection of songs that get to the heart of the matter; family, friends and the land she calls home.

Cole M Christensen
Sentinel-Tribune Arts & Entertainment Writer and freelance contributor
- Cole M Christensen - Sentinel-Tribune Arts & Entertainment Writer and freelance contributor


Discography

Debut album, Roots & Wings, 2008

Photos

Bio

~ Growing Up ~
Rural Morning View, KY is the place Lauren Houston has called home her entire life, currently living next door to the family farm she grew up on. Lauren’s parents, Dan, a full-time brick mason and part-time farmer, and Debby, a nurse, raised her on what she calls “the good stuff” ranging from the likes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor & the Rolling Stones. Over the years, Lauren fell in love with her own favorites… Jewel, Norah Jones, Hank Williams, Robinella, Over the Rhine, Ray LaMontagne and Patty Griffin, to name a few.

Early on, Lauren realized her love for singing. By the age of 5, she was part of her church children’s choir. She took piano lessons in elementary school for less than a year and notes, “I was just a kid and very frustrated that I could not read music and only played by ear. It took many years to really hone in on what I wanted to do musically, but after falling in love with Jewel sophomore year, I knew guitar was the next step for me.”

Throughout her school years Lauren was part of the choir though it was not until after high school that she passionately pursued her life long dream of making music. In October of 2001, Lauren purchased her first guitar. She was attending college and practiced during her free time, teaching herself basic chords and rhythm. She learned her favorite cover songs and played mostly around camp fires with family and friends.

~ Mr. Dub & the To Be’s ~
In 2005, Bill Westerman, a dear friend and mentor of Lauren’s, convinced her to join his new music project. Lauren liked the idea of collaboration and started practicing with the group that would eventually be named Mr. Dub & the To Be’s. The trio included Lauren on guitar and vocals, Jessica Miller on guitar and vocals and Bill Westerman (also known as “Mr. Dub”) on drums and percussion. The group played popular cover songs along with a few tunes penned by Bill in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area in 2005 and 2006.

“I started out playing cover songs because I was comfortable with them. It is easy to replicate but not as easy to create,” Lauren recollects, “and then one day, I had a melody stuck in my head. I sat down and after about 20 minutes, I had written my first song!” By mid-2006 the songs began to flow and Lauren branched out from the band to pursue her solo career.

~ A Solo Journey ~
As most 20-somethings do, Lauren was determined to embrace individuality and find herself. She quickly realized her greatest gift was giving back through music. “We are all walking down different paths. It is neat to write a song about a certain subject and then have a listener tell you they related to it in a completely different way.”

Lauren says “Writing has become the most amazing release for me. I carry a note book with me everywhere – you never know when lyrics or a song idea will come about. No matter what happens in life, positive or negative, if I can write a song about it, it has been a success.”

Lauren’s multi-genre blend naturally comes through in her Americana song writing style. Lauren’s song subjects are personal, deep and thought provoking. Her sound is an expressive, eloquent portrayal of life through music. She feels her broad personal interest in music has helped her create a mix of folk, country, bluegrass, pop, blues and soul. Lauren says “I never wanted to be nailed down to one specific genre. I like the fact that I am all across the board.”

In September 2008, Lauren placed second in the Flatrock Music Festival's Emerging Songwriters Contest with her song, Mason's Daugther.

Lauren’s debut album, Roots & Wings, is now available. You can find Lauren playing shows throughout the state of KY and regionally in Tennessee, Ohio and North Carolina.