Lauren White
"At Last"

(Groove Note Records)
At Last

Review by Wade Vonasek

20-year old Lauren White began singing as a small child, and actually began working with Norah Jones' vocal coach Rosana Eckert while still in high school. On At Last, the Texas native sounds polished for her age, yet still in the process of finding her musical identity. The album is comprised of covers and standards, as well as three White originals, "Do You Remember," "All I Do is Cry" and "Brand New Love," and as a whole, feels relaxed.

Results are mixed on the non-White numbers. Her subdued, yet strong vocal on The Carpenters' "Superstar" is a winner, successfully channeling the ghost of Karen Carpenter in her delivery. Brian Piper's piano flourishes and White's understated, breathy vocal on Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou" impresses, especially the high notes of the chorus. "Love for Sale" brings out White's soulful side, and she begins to show her vocal range more on the swinging "Mack the Knife." But on the rest of the covers, one gets the feeling that she's holding something back, and the songs come off as average in comparison to the others.

However, White shines on the three tunes that she penned. Her attitude and versatility come out on the sassy "Brand New Love." The melancholy "All I Do is Cry" captures the feeling of looking out a window on a rainy day, as the instruments hang back and let White's voice breath. And her deeper-toned vocal on "Do You Remember" goes beautifully with Ricky Woodard's tenor sax contribution. Other musicians featured on the album include Bill Cunliffe on piano, Anthony Wilson on guitar, Chuck Berghofer on bass, Joe Bagg on Hammond B-3 organ and Mark Ferber on drums.

But even with some shortcomings, At Last is a good listen overall. The album could be viewed as the first chapter in the book of White's career, a young artist just getting her feet wet as she progresses toward bigger and better things.

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Contact Brad Walseth and JazzChicago.net at bwalseth60@aol.com



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