As young as she may look, Laura Jean Anderson is filled with the spirit of wisdom, amassed through years of traveling, busking, hitchhiking, touring and old time religion–just the kind of learning a prolific songwriter would need.
You can hear it in her voice and lyrics on her latest EP, Righteous Girl in which she evokes the ghosts of Janis Joplin and modern influences of Lucius, St. Vincent and Alabama Shakes, “I feel like these songs reflect that feeling you get when you get one glimmer of hope, of sunshine in the midst of a deep depression. I would go on long walks barefoot with my guitar in the neighborhoods of LA–I felt super out of place doing that but for some reason, it put things into perspective,” Anderson says wistful.
“Take Me In” opens up the EP and Anderson gently pulls the listener into her world, her soothing voice (reminiscent of June Carter) ebbs and flows along with the electric piano rolls. However, the title track “Righteous Girl,” is a whole ‘nother beast. Crashing distorted drums clue us to a shift in tone but Anderson’s voice and guitar are there to ground the whole affair: Her haunting voice swells then dips back into a lullaby then before we know it, she belts out another howl–she’s always in control, it seems to say.
Anderson’s unique sound is a direct creation of the combination of growing up in a conservative environment with years of church singing and roots music education contradicting the grunge and punk elements of growing up in liberal Washington. You can hear this in her music, soulful vocals and well crafted storylines with elements of chaotic rock n’ roll and garage rock at its best.
Anderson’s credits her time at Calarts as a major influence on her music. It was two years of wild art school experiences, meeting amazing people, and being a barefoot hippie in the mountains writing songs, she recalls.
Then a stint in the mountain town of Huaraz, Peru where, with all her money stolen, she spent hours a day busking in the plaza until she made enough money to get a ticket home. “It was then and there that I realized I was put on this earth to make music,” Anderson says. “Alone in Peru, I was able to make it out just through music . . . I knew I had to come back to the States and pursue music full-heartedly.”
So she did. She went back to LA to finish school and record “Righteous Girl.” The EP was produced by Anderson and Theo Karon and recorded mostly at Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock. (Karon has recently worked with Mavis Staples, Angel Olsen, Foxygen, and Pillars & Tongues.)
“(The EP) directly reflects things I have experienced and feel,” she reflects. “Freedom and honesty is so important but I feel like too many things are written where the writer doesn’t REALLY mean them. I mean everything I write, and If I can’t look at myself in the mirror and speak those words, I will scrap the lyric.” As Anderson further explains, it’s a record about hardship, heartbreak and religion.
Righteous Girl will come out on March 4.