Perhaps like many of you, I was unfamiliar with the music of Lorenza Ponce until her latest CD, Soul Shifter, came through the mail. After listening a few times, it was clear that this was not just another pop rocker, this was a singer/songwriter with talent; this was an instrumentalist worth some attention. This was someone worth learning more about. A few clicks on Google, and it quickly becomes obvious that Lorenza Ponce is no novice. An accomplished violinist, she has played with some of the biggest names on the music scene: names like Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi, John Tesh, and The Dixie Chicks; not to mention Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and The Zombies. An eclectic group if there ever was one.
What is new in this her latest album, is her emergence as a roots rock soloist. Prior to this the albums she had released were new age compilations. Her first solo album was Imago for which she wrote all the music and lyrics. This was followed by three more new age albums. Soul Shifter, she has said, is "a style change from the classical training and new age music of my past, while incorporating the 'graduate degree' I have earned at the school of rock star employers and mentors." Indeed, she credits Sheryl Crow with her makeover: "Sheryl was Patsy Cline to my Loretta Lynn. She encouraged me to pick up the guitar again. . . and bought me my first really good pair of leather pants."
Of the album's ten tracks eight are by Ponce, four in collaboration with others and four on her own. The rocking "Baby Please Don't Go" is by Joseph Lee Williams. It shows the singer off at her sultry best. George Harrison's "Let It Down" begins with a soft cabaret vibe and rocks out on the chorus. Her own "Frostbite" has a nice folksy feel that builds on an extensive conceit comparing the effects of unrequited love to frostbite. "Testify" is a demand that we stand up and acknowledge that we are living for love. It features some nice guitar and banjo accompaniment. "I Won't Lose Faith" has an otherworldly quality that has some echoes of her new age past, but adds a touch of blues with the first chorus. The problem of maintaining faith in a world where bad things happen to good people is central to the song's affirmation: "No I won't, I won't lose faith in you/No matter what you do."