Laura Baron
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Laura Baron

Bethesda, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Bethesda, Maryland, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo Folk Jazz

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"Heart of The Great Unknown, by Laura Baron"

It’s the most complex form of easy listening, and that’s meant as a compliment. Tolling the line that blurs soft-core blues and jazz with acoustic guitars, sentimental flavors and an inherent beauty that only few can truly portray. You’re either born with it or you’re not. It can be exciting and bland, difficult and simple, intriguing and predictable.
Washington area musician Laura Baron has perfected this formula. Whatever it entails, whatever it embodies, the singer is a master of her craft, a craft, it must be noted, that is much harder to pull off than it first appears to be. Too often dismissed as a public radio trope reserved for only pretentious ears and middle-aged poets who wear multiple scarves during summer months, the easy listening, influences-heavy road is one often traveled, yet rarely conquered.
Yet with her latest 11-song set, “Heart of the Great Unknown,” Baron has no problem exploring the depths of that path. Imperative to her engine is that voice of hers, a chameleon-like tenor that has no fear of emotion or the bounds typically tied to genre labels. She transcends them with her deep, affecting croons, no matter the route, no matter the territory.
The best moments come when she decides to veer into the jazz world. Opener “Your Hands” is as moody as they come with its light guitar picking and elegant piano playing. By the time the brush-heavy drums appear, the dark atmosphere is already set for the arrival of some 1940s-era horns that only spice up the glamour these three minutes and 37 seconds exude.
“Tell Me More” and “Fever,” meanwhile, sound like the genesis of a “Mad Men” soundtrack. Her voice is seductive, slithering through the swing with so much confidence and imagination that even the scats never feel overdone. The former, a retrograde calypso-heavy original that beams sunshine, contrasts brilliantly with the latter, a 1956 Cooley/Blackwell treasure smothered in sultry smoke as Baron’s understated approach defines the performance’s murky mood.
From there, things morph into a more traditional setting. “A Little Note” is a fine version of adult-contemporary with its pop sensibilities and tight structure. The empowering narrative Baron’s voice tells over the sparsity of mandolin is perfect for a Lilith Fair stage near you. “Sometimes You’re Humble” and “Never Meant to Know” both take that simplicity and strip it down to tender folk with the addition of strings (“Know”) and the innocence of the singer’s purposely plaintive voice (“Humble”).
Even a nod toward world music succeeds. “Heart of the Great Unknown (Song for Ruchi)” might be lyrically suspect (occasional pushes for overt dramatics sometimes get in the way of Baron’s natural talent), but the Indian influences are as good as any you might be able to find this side of the beltway as they accentuate Baron’s versatility in tone. One tabla and a wooden flute later, and what you have is a great change of pace on a record not afraid to embark on roads littered with difference. Impressively, the track that precedes it, “Build Me a Fire,” works as a straight boogie that again makes good use of those horns. Like the seasoned veteran of the performance universe that she is, the songwriter blends into traditional blues competently and affectingly to get her point. It all adds up to a type of embarrassment of riches, her talents expanding the definition of the word “bounds.”
Why? Because Laura Baron’s latest record knows nothing of what they are. On an album devoid of all fear, the artist only rarely slips up, though when a set of songs appears this ambitious, it’s almost unfair to consider any possible discrepancies with a heavy hand. Folky. Jazzy. Worldly. Bluesy. Poppy. The record never overreaches, even when it seems like it should.
Indeed, the only thing easy about this kind of stuff is the listening. It’s the creating part that’s hard. And as “Heart of the Great Unknown” proves without any shadow of a doubt, Laura Baron has that part of the equation darn near perfected.


3 stars out of 4
Colin McGuire is a writer and page designer at the News-Post as well the music reviews editor at PopMatters.com. His blog, TV Without A TV, can be found at blog.fredericknewspost.com. Want your album reviewed by the FNP? Email 72Hours@newspost.com for details. - Frederick News Post


"Discover a voice you need to hear"

Laura's songs soar with rhythm, beauty, and intelligence. The lyrics stand as poems alone and her voice seduces . . . Pick any one of her songs and discover a voice you need to hear. Terry Kester - WPFW


"'Scenes' from a songbird's view"

Im not accustomed to writing music reviews, favoring film as the medium most suited to my misguided opinions. But its possible Laura Baron could change my mind. Baron has an easy way with a lyric she penned most of the songs. Scenes from the Avenue has a distinct, in-the-moment feel, as though recorded on the fly, surrounded by diners and dreamers, burning cigarettes and clinking glasses. And from a fan of all crooners, from Dino to Ella yes, that's a compliment. --Nathan Orave - Gazette.Net


"Breathtakingly Beautiful Voice"

She belts out the blues in a primal, earthy way. But don't be fooled. As often as not, her voice delicate, reed-thin, pleading, vulnerable - breathtakingly beautiful. --Pamela Rigaux - Frederick News Post


"'Scenes' from a songbird's view"

Im not accustomed to writing music reviews, favoring film as the medium most suited to my misguided opinions. But its possible Laura Baron could change my mind. Baron has an easy way with a lyric she penned most of the songs. Scenes from the Avenue has a distinct, in-the-moment feel, as though recorded on the fly, surrounded by diners and dreamers, burning cigarettes and clinking glasses. And from a fan of all crooners, from Dino to Ella yes, that's a compliment. --Nathan Orave - Gazette.Net


"Such Intimate Emotions"

She sings of such intimate emotions that this music could only be hers. "Stay With Me" confesses a vulnerability that most of us would never touch ... Arrangements are meaningful too -- the mellow meditation Peace Someday is carried lightly by strings, while Black Madonna is haunted by layered harmony vocals . . . a CD of admirable heart. - Takoma Voice


"Peace, Love & Hope"

Laura Baron touches, challenges, and inspires the listener with her smooth vocals, soothing melodies, and moving lyrics. Her contemplative message of peace, love, hope, and beauty will keep fans coming back for more. Don Bridges, President - Washington Songwriters Association


"Such Intimate Emotions"

She sings of such intimate emotions that this music could only be hers. "Stay With Me" confesses a vulnerability that most of us would never touch ... Arrangements are meaningful too -- the mellow meditation Peace Someday is carried lightly by strings, while Black Madonna is haunted by layered harmony vocals . . . a CD of admirable heart. - Takoma Voice


"Diners & Dreamers"

‘‘Scenes from the Avenue” has a distinct, in-the-moment feel, as though recorded on the fly, surrounded by diners and dreamers, burning cigarettes and clinking glasses. And from a fan of all crooners, from Dino to Ella — yes, that’s a compliment.

I’m not accustomed to writing music reviews, favoring film as the medium most suited to my misguided opinions. But it’s possible Laura Baron could change my mind.

Most recently I received her latest CD, ‘‘Scenes From the Avenue,” and a note to take a listen. So I did.

Baron has an easy way with a lyric — she penned most of the songs, here, save for three tracks co-written with frequent collaborator Pat Quinn, and two covers — and an elusive voice. It’s easygoing, reminiscent of Keely Smith, but with the bite of Natalie Merchant by way of Sheryl Crow, all held together by a harmony best described as haunting – not a far cry from Sarah McLaughlin.

Baron and Company have certainly nailed the jazz element — upon playing the CD on my car stereo, images of an intimate, underground club filled with smoke and song were conjured."
- Frederick Gazette


"Diners & Dreamers"

‘‘Scenes from the Avenue” has a distinct, in-the-moment feel, as though recorded on the fly, surrounded by diners and dreamers, burning cigarettes and clinking glasses. And from a fan of all crooners, from Dino to Ella — yes, that’s a compliment.

I’m not accustomed to writing music reviews, favoring film as the medium most suited to my misguided opinions. But it’s possible Laura Baron could change my mind.

Most recently I received her latest CD, ‘‘Scenes From the Avenue,” and a note to take a listen. So I did.

Baron has an easy way with a lyric — she penned most of the songs, here, save for three tracks co-written with frequent collaborator Pat Quinn, and two covers — and an elusive voice. It’s easygoing, reminiscent of Keely Smith, but with the bite of Natalie Merchant by way of Sheryl Crow, all held together by a harmony best described as haunting – not a far cry from Sarah McLaughlin.

Baron and Company have certainly nailed the jazz element — upon playing the CD on my car stereo, images of an intimate, underground club filled with smoke and song were conjured."
- Frederick Gazette


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

"low key jazz-tinted musingsbrisk and engaging."-Mike Joyce, Washington Post 

"Imperative
 to her engine is that voice of hers, a chameleon-like tenor that has no fear of emotion or the bounds typically tied to genre labels. She transcends them with her deep, affecting 
croons, no matter the route, no matter the territory. It all adds up to a type of embarrassment of riches, her talents expanding the definition of the word bounds."-Colin McGuire, Frederick News Post 

Award-winning song poet Laura Baron is known for her powerful vocals and passionate delivery. Her voice conjures the intimacy of Joni Mitchell and the jazz sensibility of Norah Jones, with a nod to the earthy and earnest folk-pop of Shawn Colvin and the bluesy undertones of Bonnie Raitt.

Laura's latest album Heart of The Great Unknown produced by DC's award winning producer Marco Delmar, was released Fall 2013.

Laura's musical evolution has been shaped by her personal and spiritual experiences. In  2011 she adopted her daughter Ruchi from an orphanage in New Delhi, India. This emotional journey has strongly influenced her latest album Heart Of The Great UnKnown, a tightly woven combination of contemporary folk, jazz and world music. The title track, subtitled Song for Ruchi, incorporates classical Hindustani instruments such as the sitar and tabla, and an Indian tala, or rhythm, into this love song between a mother and her daughter.

Laura has received over 20 awards from the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest including three Gold Awards. She is also a 2012 winner of the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) Professional Artist Support System (PASS) contest, and was nominated for 2012 Wammie for Songwriter of the Year and a 2013 Contemporary Folk Vocalist.

Visit: http://www.laurabaronmusic.com/about/#sthash.jI9ItikL.dpuf

Laura's two other CD's are Scenes From The Avenue & Stay With Me 

"Scenes From The Avenue" was selected to be part of the Pandora Network. So create your own Laura Baron Channel!

Laura won a 2008 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest Gold Award for her song, 'Kindness Don't Rest Easy" which she performed at the Smithsonian Bard Theater and a 2007 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest Gold Award for "Winter Don't Own Me"

"Stay With Me" was released with Azalea City Recordings in 2006. Her song, "Peace Someday" won a 2004 Gold Award in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

Laura also has 5 recordings for kids recordings which have sold 1000's in the USA, available nationally through the Public Library System.  http://www.goldenglowmusic.com

"No Easy Way To Say Goodbye" was featured in Jan. 09 on all American Airline flights on the in- flight Filter Magazine channel


Washington Post Review:


"Scenes From the Avenue," opens with the title track, a wistful, minor-key ballad that recalls the sort of disarming pop-jazz that Michael Franks helped popularize in the '70s. Whether Baron points to Franks and like-minded singer-songwriters as primary influences is anyone's guess, but it's hard to imagine their fans having any trouble embracing Baron's low-key, jazz-tinted musings. Blues, again pitched soft and low, also plays a significant role in Baron's repertoire. Most of the songwriting on "Scenes From the Avenue" is so appealing that you don't find yourself wishing that Baron would cover pop classics.-- Mike Joyce, WASHINGTON POST, April 17th 2009



Band Members