Todd Lorenz
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Todd Lorenz

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"Twenty Aught Eight V1 and V2 reviewed by Steve Jones"


There are fifty two weeks in a year and Todd Lorenz has established a goal to write a song in each of them for 2008, or as he has called it ‘twenty aught eight’. And so with 13 weeks in each quarter of the year, the year will result in giving him four CDs of 13 songs each. The first two were released to the Rockford area when Todd opened our Blues in the School Evening show at the Just Goods Listening Room on October 21st. I gladly agreed to review them.

Todd is a big man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. I’ve listened to and reviewed his earlier works and enjoyed them all. While his output is not even nearly 100% blues, it is American roots music and it is delivered from that huge heart of his. His compositions reflect his emotions and feelings, from pains and emotion of a lost love to the primal urges between a man and a woman.

Working to a calendar would stifle the creative juices of most songwriters, but Lorenz seems up to the challenge. While all of his songs certainly are not award winners and stylistically there is a little bit of repetitiveness in a few of the tunes that are a bit sing-song, in general his songs allow us to see through the window to a bygone era in music. We have some songs that could easily be work songs sung in the field and certainly all of the songs could be played on the front porch or before a warm fire with family and friends, allowing them to evoke the gamut of human feelings.

Vocally, Todd has a big instrument. He has power and enunciates the lyrics with clarity and a folky tonal quality. His finger and thumb work on the guitar strings are excellent as is his mastery of the slide. Whether bending a note, playing a blues riff or playing accompaniment to a folk song, his guitar play is both precise and colorful. The instrumentals on V1 called “Moonbeams” and “The Meandering Hound” and “Two-Step on V2 are great examples and really highlight his guitar playing.
Examples of the downside of his emotion include the song where he curses God when he sings of losing his wife (“Lost in Pain”, V1) and ponders a failed relationship as a loner musician who leaves his family for the road (“Never Got Along”, V2) . The upside of his feelings are expressed in tunes like “Life is Good” (V2).. He gets a little whimsical yet serious about a woman who is “six feet of trouble...in her high heels” in “Six Feet of Trouble” (V2) .

There is a lot of music here in these two CDs. While I found a few of them to have similar tempos and melodic lines, they are generally pretty darn good. If you like acoustic music that ranges from a little folk to a little country to a little blues in a traditional sort of way, these CDs will please you. And you can always sample them and the upcoming V3 and V4 on Todd’s website. - Steve Jones, Crossroads Blues Society


"Blues Bytes, Aug 2007"

Todd Lorenz is a California-born, Wisconsin-based guitarist/singer who takes an Americana approach to acoustic guitar, mixing elements of blues, folk, rock, bluegrass, and country into his playing and singing. Having released three previous CDs over the past eight years, he’s released two simultaneously in 2007, including My Blues (self-released), which consists of rerecorded versions of popular songs from his first three CDs.

Lorenz has a deft touch on guitar and a warm, rich voice. His highly original songs (20 on this CD) deal with familiar blues themes: pain, loss, love, etc., but with a modern, and sometimes personal touch. Highlights include “Tired of Your Pain,” “Life Ain’t Easy,” “To Your Grave,” “Sundance Groove,” “Good Old Days Again,” and “Kentucky Woman.”

Lorenz is comfortable playing and singing in blues, country, folk, or any of the Americana styles. Well produced by Lorenz and featuring a variety of styles and original tunes, My Blues is a fine CD that should please acoustic guitar fans. Visit his website, www.toddlorenz.com or www.cdbaby.com for more information. - Graham Clarke


"My Blues reviewed by Mark Thompson"

Todd hails from Monroe, WI and sent me an e-mail asking if he could submit one of his recordings for a review. He has recently started performing live again and one of his first shows was in Rockford.

This disc is a selection of the best blues material from Todd’s first three discs. All of the cuts were written by Todd, who handles the vocals and lays down a steady stream of fine slide guitar on this solo effort. These versions were recently recorded to give listeners a more current, accurate indication of Todd’s talent and ability.

A solo recording doesn’t leave an artist anywhere to hide, especially when you are working with original material. Lorenz is able to make it work with ease. His slide guitar creates a solid rhythmic foundation throughout the disc, especially on tracks like “Hush Hush” where his rapid-fire licks add to the intensity of the performance. He has good range on the vocals and varies his approach enough to maintain interest.

The same could be said for Todd’s songwriting. He mixes standard blues licks with lyrics that often provide a humorous view of real life situations. This quality is very evident on “Got Her Gone”, where the woman lays down a list of laws which Todd promptly uses as a roadmap to bring the relationship to an end. One has to wonder about his emotional state of being when he wrote “Even My Shoes Got the Blues”.

I listened to this recording on two long business road-trips. It held my attention both times. The best praise I can give My Blues is that, after hearing the disc, I want to see a live performance by Lorenz. We will all have a chance to do just that when Todd appears at Border’s Books in Rockford on Friday, July 6, starting at 8 p.m. Or go to his website and listen to some samples to see what you think. - Crossroads Blues Society


"Live. Love. Learn. Sing. reviewed by Steve Jones"


In our last newsletter, we learned about Todd’s new blues CD My Blues. This time we are reviewing the CD that was released concurrently (his other new CD) called Live. Love. Learn. Sing.
Here is what Todd’s website has to say about this CD… “(The CD) is made up of 14 brand new songs that are all deeply personal with diverse subject matter than includes life, death, love, suicide, persistence, self awareness, and fate. The lyrics find a way to provoke thought in the listener, often managing to do so with a dose of humor. The music successfully blends elements of blues, folk, rock, bluegrass, and country, forming what might best be called Americana.”

Having now met Todd, I can honestly say that the CD is truly a labor of his love. Where as My Blues explores Todd’s acoustic blues side, Live. Love. Learn. Sing. is the fusion of blues, folk and other acoustic forms and as stated truly is a bit of Americana and it is Americana at the top of it’s form.

From the opening “The Ballad of Papa Chuck” to the closing “Lullaby,” we see the spectrum of Lorenz’ abilities. His folksy reflections on life, his bluesy tunes and lyrics, and the interjection of a little fun now and then makes for an great CD. Each original song is a reflection of it’s creator’s skills and they are all executed flawlessly. Todd is an extremely talented artist and songwriter. - Crossroads Blues Society


Discography

Twenty Aught Eight - Volumes 1 - 4, released over the course of 2008 & early 2009. Involved posting a new song on my web site every week for a year.

My Blues - 2007
Live. Love. Learn. Sing. - 2007
Here I Stand - 2004
Reflections - 2001
Even My Shoes got the Blues - 1999

Photos

Bio

Please visit my main site at http://toddlorenz.com.

Todd Lorenz is an accomplished singer/songwriter who was the only solo act to make the finals of the Arizona Blues Showdown in 2000. He has jammed with Guy Davis, shared a stage with John Statz and opened for Fruteland Jackson. He plays acoustic Americana music made up of a mish mash of blues, folk, rock and a bit of country. He was born in Orange, CA and has spent most of his early life in southern California, including graduating from Musician’s Institute in 1989. He then relocated to San Diego, CA where he fronted a few bands and began playing solo acoustic music with a small degree of success.

In December of 1998, he relocated to Phoenix, AZ and continued playing solo, making an impact on the local coffeehouse scene. In April of 2006, he moved again, buying a home near Monroe, a small town in south central WI.

Todd's most recent project is called Twenty Aught Eight, during which he posted a new song to his web site and his myspace page every week for a year between 1/14/08 and 1/05/09. All songs can be downloaded for free from Todd's site and they will also be available for purchase on CDs. Each collection will document a quarter of a year and will have 13 songs.

Prior to Twenty Aught Eight, he released 5 CDs independently, starting with Even My Shoes got the Blues in 1999. Reflections followed in 2001 and Here I Stand debuted in 2004. In 2007, Todd released two albums simultaneously.

My Blues consists of 20 selections from his first three albums that were rerecorded in order to better serve as an introduction to his earlier work. These songs were chosen based on consistent audience reaction and also include some of Todd’s favorites.

Live. Love. Learn. Sing. was made up of 14 new songs that are all deeply personal with diverse subject matter than includes life, death, love, suicide, persistence, self awareness, and fate. The lyrics find a way to provoke thought in the listener, often managing to do so with a dose of humor. The music successfully blends elements of blues, folk, rock, bluegrass, and country, forming what might best be called Americana.

2007 also sees Todd’s return to what he does best - playing live music, where it continues to be his goal to move people on an emotional level, drawing on his deep, resonant voice, tasteful guitar work, and a storyteller’s knack for interacting with and entertaining his audience.

“Show me something, touch my soul. Bring a tear to my eye. Make it real; I wanna feel like I’m really alive.”
- Feel Alive, Todd Lorenz