Review by Any Hawes for MPM
Don’t you just love it when an album drops on you and you’ve not really heard much or anything about the artist concerned, yet the quality therein just amazes and inspires you? Well, that is what has happened to me with State of Mind, the debut album by young Welsh Blues/Rock singer Laura Evans.
I’d had a couple of singles from this album pop up on Facebook, but I’m in a lot of music-related groups and you can’t check out everything and so, aside from one rather good single, I was not really previously familiar with Laura Evans’ work. So imagine my delight when this album popped up for review and I was able to give it the full attention that it most definitely deserves.
Opening with the single ‘I’m Alright’, it’s immediately apparent that Laura Evans has an absolutely superb voice for this kind of bluesy Rock. Fuzzed-up guitar riffs scythe through the speakers to lead the track before Evans’ vocal cuts through with a powerful melody. There are no vocal histrionics here; just damned fine singing on a gloriously down and dirty Blues Rocker. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more filthy guitar sound than the main one driving this track and it’s absolutely perfect for the track’s vibe.
‘Solo’ follows with another classic 70s sounding Blues/Rock riff and acoustic guitars driving the track. The tempo and vibe is very similar to the opening track, which, surprisingly, works rather well, as it almost seems as though it’s part of a bit of a theme. The production and arrangement works so well on this track and Evans pushes her voice just a little more on this.
‘Fire With Fire’ follows and continues the Blues/Rock theme but this time with a hugely melodic chorus where vast layers of harmony vocals drive the hook relentlessly home into your brain as Evans gives us the full range of what her beautiful voice is capable of. Definitely a standout track thus far!
‘Fool’ is a classy 6/8 time slightly jazzy Blues/Rock piece that features Evans’ vocal drenched in glorious reverb, emoting powerfully over a wonderfully subtle yet oh-so-slightly-dirty solo electric rhythm guitar. You can really feel the emotion in the vocal on this classic heartache track and when she pushes into the falsetto midway through the song it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Powerful stuff!
The classic Blues/Rock sound returns with the title track ‘State of Mind’ which, like ‘Fire With Fire’, features a harmony-drenched melodic chorus and by now it’s very clear that this is one very classy album from one very talented young lady!
‘Let You Down Easy’ drops the tempo for a wonderful acoustic-driven ballad, with gospel-styled harmony vocals behind the main melody on the chorus. Subtle and emotive lead guitars drift in and out of the track to add to the laid-back emotion-laden groove. It’s a beautiful song and the space within the production allows it to breathe perfectly.
‘Drag Me Back In’ adds vocal effects but these in no way detract from Evans’ stunning voice. This track returns us to the dirty Blues style of the opening track, but with a tad more melody and some stunning vocal harmonies driving the chorus hooks home.
‘Good At Getting Over You’ has a slight Fleetwood Mac vibe due to the combination of chuggy electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric piano and layered vocals. It is also blessed with another very melodic chorus which worms its merry way into your head and simply refuses to let go. It’s in this track that I finally realise who Laura Evans’ voice reminds me of at times. There is a very slight Kate Bush vibe to the tone, especially when she hits her higher register and sings very cleanly and purely and it’s at its most evident in this track.
‘Mess of Me’ features grand piano arpeggios and more highly emotive and beautifully performed vocals and nothing else. The dynamics in the lead vocal on this track are simply spine-tingling as the track moves from its subtle opening to the mid-song climax and beyond. The way Evans’ voice works against the lone piano backing is faultless and utterly beautiful.
‘Gone’ is a dirty Delta-Blues influenced mid-paced rocker. The riffs just drip with swampy Southern grit and the sultry vocal conjures up images of sweaty beer-soaked nights in the Mississippi delta and this makes it probably my favourite of the really Bluesy tracks on the album.
The album closes with ‘Free’ which maintains the classic Blues/Rock vibe and the swampy Southern feel from ‘Gone’, but adds more melodic vocal hooks and finishes the album on a definite high.
This is a very, very good debut album from Laura Evans. She has a stunning voice and the range of styles within the album shows that she has a mastery of a range of Blues-influenced approaches that she is making her own. For fans of artists such as Elles Bailey, this should be a high priority on your music shopping lists. Laura Evans is an artist whose career I shall be following very closely now and in the future. Wonderful stuff!
STATE OF MIND
ALBUM TRACK LISTING
I’M ALRIGHT (3.10)
FIRE WITH FIRE (3.02)
STATE OF MIND (3.21)
LET YOU DOWN EASY (3.40)
DRAG ME BACK IN (2.44)
GOOD AT GETTING OVER YOU (4.08)
MESS OF ME (3.47)