Lauren Shera
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Lauren Shera


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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On June 7, California rising indie-folk star Lauren Shera will release Once I Was A Bird (featuring guest vocals from Abigail Washburn and Kristin Hersh), and make her Bonnaroo debut that weekend. We’re excited to bring you a sneak peak of Once I Was A Bird with an exclusive stream of the gorgeous track “Stealth,” on of Shera’s “favorite songs to sing.” We got the details on the song’s origins below.

What inspired “Stealth?”

At the time I was coping with some difficult life changes, and was feeling trapped in my head and weighted down by a lot of sadness. I wound up shaping the verses around this picture of someone that had changed; watching as they became a person I no longer knew but feeling helplessly shackled to them. The song is a plea to be released from those ties and set free again.

This song and many on the record are “breakup songs”, a term I strongly dislike and try to avoid associating with the music that I write. To me the real subject matter is that of the human experience: Love and loss, regrowth and change. It’s certainly not a new concept and all I can do is offer up my experience with it, from the most genuine and heartfelt place that I can.

When did you write it?

“Stealth” was written in the summer or fall of 2009. It’s hard to pinpoint dates now as most of the songs on this record were written quickly, in something like a trance or a fog. I had been living in Chicago for a little while, and after I came home to California in the spring I wrote this song.

Tell us about recording the song.

The production and recording process of this song was fairly simple compared to other tracks on the album that have more extensive arrangements. My favorite part was singing the multiple layers of vocals; from the earliest demo I made of the track and sent to my producer during pre-production, I had layered the vocals and knew that I wanted a sort of choir-like effect by having sparse instrumentation under the power of a big vocal presence. At the time Bon Iver’s record For Emma, Forever Ago had just come out and I was so moved by his vocal sound and definitely found some inspiration there. “Stealth” remains one of my favorite songs to sing and one of my favorite ways to start a live set, as I feel like it’s an honest and meaningful introduction for my audience. - American Songwriter

""This is an engaging, poignant album.""

It takes a special talent to be able to turn the morose into something that is pleasingly hypnotic, but that’s what Lauren Shera has done with her latest album, Once I was a Bird. Filled with loss, heartbreak, uncertainty and questions, these twelve tracks trek across an arid yet emotional landscape of personal history that is anything but happy, and yet Shera and her cohorts draw you along, one song after another, because you cannot help but want to know where they are going next.

Shera has a steady, solid vocal which rarely slips below or rises above a middle range in terms of its sound or range. Throughout, there is also the slightest tremble or echo to her voice that adds a unique dimension to her performances. At first it sounds like there might be something wrong with your speakers when you hear this, but soon you realize this is just her unexpected way of singing and once you get used to this it is quite nice. And this album isn’t just her singing to an acoustic guitar either, as the ukulele and clawhammer banjo make appearances as well, in addition to the rest of her band playing the mandolin, violin and cello, to name a few.

Whether singing about a lover leaving (“Another Season”), the choking constraints of a relationship (“Stealth”) or reminiscing about what her life was like before her heart broke (“Battle”), Shera does it all with an eye towards the future rather than dwelling on the past. These tales of woe, oddly enough, are not meant to be a pity party for her, but in fact are meant to be viewed as lessons learned as she goes forward. The experiences she catalogs here might be unique to her, but the emotions involved and what she has done to keep on going are universal, and many will be able to resonate with her lyrics.

Once I was a Bird isn’t the happiest record you’re ever going to hear, but it is not without hope. Shera is not afraid to dive into the depths of despair in order to find something worth holding onto for the sake of herself and the listener, and the often somber sounds of her music are frequently tinged with a power that is meant to lift you up again by the end. This is an engaging, poignant album. - Stereo Subversion

"“Her voice is going to define the next generation of folk music.”"

Opener Lauren Shera, has been garnering praise in a big way from big-time authorities. She’s recently got props from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh:
“Every generation or two, a voice comes along that redefines what you thought you knew about music and touches you deep down in your soul…” he said. “Her voice is going to define the next generation of folk music.”

The young singer-songwriter – who recently finished a month-long stint on the Communion Tour (the brainchild of Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett) with Matthew & the Atlas and the David Mayfield Parade – has some mesmerizing and crisp fingerpicking chops to accompany that Lesh-loving voice. And two songs into her set, the overly talkative and wasted crowd finally was entranced with her tunes. Especially the heart-on-the-sleeve prose of “Stealth” from her recently released, Once I Was a Bird.

After Shera had the packed house under her spell, Brokedown in Bakersfield – a newly-formed, California supergroup featuring Nicki Bluhm (Gramblers), Tim (The Mother Hips) and pedal steel master, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (ALO) – kept the party going well past midnight. The sextet, dedicated to recreating the dusty Americana sound that came out of Bakersfield, made their debut last summer at the High Sierra Music Festival and has since been delivering spot-on covers of everyone from Buck Owens and Gram Parsons to Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. - Relix

""poignant, introspective songwriting""

Lauren Shera - Northern California singer/songwriter mines delicate, emotionally resonant chamber folk on her second full length getting a national relaunch in late spring...Claw hammer banjo princess Abigail Washburn and Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses) guest...// Release: Once I Was A Bird (June 7) // Quote: "It’s important to me that people are able to relate to (the album) and take out of it a shared experience that everyone has been through in some form or another." // Sounds like: poignant, introspective songwriting with Shera's tender, airy and quavering voice surrounded by an array of acoustic instruments and gorgeous string arrangements // What we like: Andy Zenczak's restrained production...the small wonder of "Endless Sea", a perfectly crafted melody as the foundation for twinkling mandolin and subdued trumpet backing...the exquisite title track conjuring emotional vulnerability with Shera's plaintive voice surrounded by elegant strings... - Direct Current

""A major talent lying in wait.... Her world-weary ruminations exude wisdom far outpacing her years on this planet""

On June 7th, Such Small Hands Records will release Once I Was A Bird, the debut offering from Northern California’s Lauren Shera. A native of New York and alum of Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, Shera’s gossamer voice and traditionally grounded folk stylings are sure to make fans of Jessica Lea Mayfield and Gillian Welch weak in the knees. Her world-weary ruminations exude wisdom far outpacing her years on this planet, and her powerful performances have led to her sharing stages with luminaries like Bob Dylan and Wanda Jackson.

A major talent lying in wait, MOKB is mighty happy to share Tether, an exclusive track from Once I Was A Bird. - My Old Kentucky Blog

"“artful musical arrangements and compelling narrative lyricism...a fresh spin on classic folk”-"

All the stars seem to be in line for California-based folk songstress Lauren Shera upon the release of her second full-length, Once I Was a Bird. Whether it’s the ever-growing list of magazine and radio appearances, wildly successful festival appearances such as Bonnaroo, or her list of friends and collaborators, including folk institution Abigail Washburn, Shera seems bound to succeed. Unlike a lot of cyber-hyped musicians, though, Shera definitely has the talent to back the attention, and Once I Was a Bird is a masterful demonstration of said ability.
Interestingly, the album’s biggest strength and its most wearisome weakness both stem from Shera’s voice. While her characteristic quivering pipes deliver her poetic lyrics with absolute conviction, her sometimes haphazard vibrato tends to detract from the otherwise clean, tight arrangements. A notable example of this is “Another Season”, where the attempted harmonized vocals come up short because of the lack of held notes. That being said, Shera’s performance on album standouts such as “Storyteller” and “Once I Was a Bird” more than compensates for these low moments.

A broad mix of instruments, including horns, strings, and sporadic clawhammer banjo appearances by Washburn, bring each track to life, with even the stripped-down tracks featuring rich chimes and flutes. The vibrant combinations of instruments prevent Bird from feeling washed up, and when paired alongside Shera’s mournful vocals, the two seamlessly come together to create a special, fresh spin on classic folk.

On aforementioned “Storyteller”, Shera vows, “No I don’t plan on staying very long.” Taking into consideration how excellent of a listen Once I Was a Bird is and just how talented Shera proves herself to be through its artful musical arrangements and compelling narrative lyricism, one can’t help but hope that that’s not the case. - Consequence of Sound


In My Bones (2009)
Once I Was a Bird (2011)
Gold and Rust (2014)



Lauren Shera

On the eve of the release of her third album, Gold and Rust, Lauren Shera decided it was time for a change of scenery. She had studied in Chicago at the Old Town School of Folk Music and honed her craft as a vocalist, songstress and multi-instrumentalist on the road and in the San Francisco bay area, where she had become a fixture of the folk music scene. With her unique brand of Americana-indie-folk, Lauren decided that Nashville was calling so she packed her bags and settled in to the Music City community to partake in its vast resources.

Lauren had been playing guitar and writing songs for four years when, at the age of 17, she self-released her first album, In My Bones. That same year she was invited to perform at the Bob Dylan Tribute Concert at Avery Fisher Hall. Lauren shared the stage with 22 celebrated artists including Patti Smith, Roseanne Cash, The Roots, Phil Lesh, Ryan Adams, Warren Haynes, Philip Glass, Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Merchant, and Allen Toussaint.

Before the release of her second album, Once I Was a Bird, in 2010, Lauren studied her songwriting craft at the renowned Old Town School of Folk Music. An ethereal blend of traditional Irish, old timey, and Appalachian folk music styles, the album featured guest performances by Abigail Washburn and Kristin Hersh.

Once I Was a Bird caught the attention of music journalists who offered critical praise of the songs, the intricate arrangements, and Lauren’s impeccable voice and powerful vibrato. Roughstock: “She is a folk singer in the best tradition of folk singers, immediate and contemporary with a strong tie to the past. She is roots music, all string instruments and Celtic themes, but she still retains an original sound. Once I Was A Bird is the quintessential folk album for fans who love that edge of Irish sound that mines the territory where folk and bluegrass overlap.”

With her profile elevated to a national level, Lauren was invited to the Bonnaroo and Mountain Jam stages, and she was hand picked by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons for the introductory U.S. tour of the Communion collective. In addition to Lauren, the Communion Tour featured The David Mayfield Parade and Matthew & The Atlas in a seamless night of artistic cooperation as each artist performed individually and in combined formats.

On her third album, Gold and Rust, which is planned for late 2013 release, Lauren has evolved an edgier and more defined indie sound that builds upon the vintage folk vibe of her first two albums. Quietly powerful, the richly textured album was recorded with the band members playing live in the studio as they would on-stage, to create a sound that conjures the Laurel Canyon folk scene of the late sixties/early seventies.

Lauren began 2013 on a national tour with Augustana and now, with the album complete, Lauren will once again hit the road to support it. Over the years, Lauren has shared the stage with such artists as Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, Vienna Teng, Shawn Colvin, Billy Bragg, Nanci Griffith, Joan Osborne, Wanda Jackson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jackie Greene and Abigail Washburn.