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Music Review: Lauren Harris – Calm Before The Storm

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The music industry moves quickly and you either have to be up and ready to rock or lose that chance and let someone else “Steal Your Fire”.

One such moment came when legendary performer and producer Russ Ballard strolled into a Lauren Harris gig back in 2005, he quickly decided to invite her into the studio to see if she had what it takes. Lauren seized the opportunity and the first tentative steps that ultimately led towards her new album Calm Before The Storm had been taken. Building an excellent band around her by adding guitarist Richie Faulkner, bass player Randy Gregg, and drummer Tom McWilliams she began a schedule of work that would have seen many other, less committed people, fall by the wayside. With this release all that hard work, commitment and belief really is starting to pay off.

Within a year she was supporting none other than Alice Cooper and put on a career changing performance. Word spread and festival appearances followed before Lauren and her band went on a major world tour supporting Iron Maiden. As gigs go they don’t get much bigger than that. Okay, I got nearly two paragraphs before I mentioned that Lauren’s dad is, Steve, bass player, founder member and inspiration behind Maiden. After all, that is purely genetic and the fact is that Lauren can rock with the best in her own right. Consider this – you can’t get up on stage in front of huge, sometimes unforgiving, festival crowds and get away with it unless you are very good indeed. That is irrespective of who your dad happens to be.

The tour took her to Tokyo, Dubai, and Bangalore in India where the sight of a female fronting a rock band caused quite a stir. Her reputation quickly grew. I eventually caught up with her at the Iron Maiden gig in Paris, part of a massive world tour,  recently and I have to say she oozes both talent and confidence and worked the vast audience brilliantly. Signed to Demolition DR2 records she somehow managed to find a gap in her hectic life to start work on an album. Here we are then, right up to date with the recent release, the result of those efforts, Calm Before The Storm. 

To help capture that raw power that she and her band generate on stage Kevin Shirley whose credits include Maiden, Journey, and Aerosmith was drafted in to help on some tracks and, it must be said, has done a mighty fine job mixing sharing the role with Paul Trust and Freddy Pinero Jnr. The opener, a version of Gun’s, “Steal Your Fire” is an utterly irresistible and attention grabbing start, lurking in the subconscious long after it has died away. This is only one of two covers on the album with the band being responsible for nine of their own showing commendable writing skills with “Your Turn”, “Get It Over”, “Like It Or Not” , “Hit Or Miss”, the revealing “Let Us Be” and the excellent “See Through”. The three slower tempo songs “From The Bottom To The Top”, “Hurry Up” and “You Say” are all extremely well crafted and are excellently sung by Lauren.  They are writing to their undeniable strengths coming up with songs that make any Lauren Harris live gig a highly enjoyable and memorable experience.

The second cover version on Calm Before The Storm takes us onto one of dad Steve’s favourite bands, one of rocks lost gems, Stray and their 1973 track “Come On Over” from their Mudanzas album. I have occasionally heard Stray, a band that remains dear to my heart, covered before, Maiden included, but this track is very probably the best and most effective Stray cover I have ever heard, by anyone.  I even expected the brass that Stray used for that album to come blaring in.

The whole band perform strongly throughout the album meshing together to provide a good solid rock base but, of course,  it’s Lauren who grabs the lions share of attention with some excellent vocals particularly on “You Say”.  She can rock, she can sing, she can front a powerful band and entertain even in the biggest arenas. All this has been achieved in little over three years and is a testament to just what you can achieve with the kind of dedication that Lauren has shown. Ultimately, it has nothing to do with family ties after all when Russ Ballard spotted her he had no idea who she was. Obviously there is something in the genes!

Lauren Harris and her band have put out a highly enjoyable rockingly confident first album that provides a tantalizing glimpse of just what may happen next.

For gigs, news, video clips and to catch the band live go to Lauren Harris' official website or her official MySpace profile

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