Album Review: Laura Jean Anderson – Righteous Girl

Laura Jean Anderson – Righteous Girl

As you listen to the first track of Laura Anderson’s EP Righteous Girl, “Take Me In,” the most distinguishing aspect of the music is immediately her vocal quality, which exudes the warm tones of campfire smoke in one moment, then pierces through the air like a woman scorned in the next.

Unapologetically slow-paced, Anderson writes “ain’t thinkin’ about tomorrow/ ain’t thinking about where to be/cause my happiness is swallowed/ and my sorrows they have married me.” Her nonchalance is contagious and the band arrangements billow deliciously. Fans of Neko Case and Dusty Springfield will recognize a similar siren call, an American hauntedness that echoes through the caverns of our collective psyche and rattles the part of our souls that live eternally in some lonely tavern. Anderson arranges her songs with impressive restraint, allowing ample room for moody arrangements to creep in around the edges, transform your mental state and slip through the many shades of open skies, vintage automobiles and dimly lit opium dens.

The title track, “Righteous Girl,” dives straight into a psychedelic pool of distorted colors and reflected sunlight until it fades off into the molecular cosmos. The song sits right in the pocket of a righteous sinner and paints pictures of desert canyons and wayward tumble weeds. The arrangement is careful – taking its time in the quiet moments before breaking loose like a Moab flash flood and showing exactly how much Anderson can communicate through masterful vocal control and tonal infections.

Later, on the fourth track “It Won’t Be Long,” Anderson features a charmingly out-of-tune piano and Beatles-y guitar part a la White Album. The song captures the cautious, but confident optimism sanded out of hard work and indefatigable persistence.

Throughout the EP, there is a refreshing palate of 60’s nostalgia, desert road stops, heartbreak and polka dots. There is a sweltering undertone of rage to Anderson’s songwriting, simmering hot-as-hell coals that glow in the night, mesmerizing. Righteous Girl is a straightforward call that disperses into the ether.

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