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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lara James - Why Wouldn't I [EP]

Why Wouldn't I - EP

Lara James - Why Wouldn't I [EP]
2014, Lara James

Lara James grew up writing songs.  The fact that she was never exposed to pop music until her teens not-withstanding, James grew up on a mix of church music, jazz and old Broadway musicals.  In spite of her musical desires, she never pursued them until after she’d been married and had kids.  You’ll be glad she made the leap of faith, as James has a voice worth waiting for.  Her latest EP, Why Wouldn’t I, explores sparse and simple arrangements that allow her voice to shine. And shine it does.

James kicks off with the wonderfully sultry jazz number "Tick Tock", wielding a voice that could melt butter in a freezer and a fun energy. The energy remains high for "Why Wouldn't I", a carpe diem tune with a memorable chorus and a very danceable arrangement. In the hands of the right producer this song becomes a mega hit, but the electronic enhancements added in that process would detract from the simple beauty of James' composition.

James gives Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls" a confessional/cabaret feel, but the quiet suspense of the arrangement is a perfect complement to her voice.  "Love Worth Fighting For" is a delightfully stripped down ballad with a melancholy feel, yet is full of a vibrant energy that's impossible to ignore. James is entirely on her game here, owning the moment the way a leading lady owns the stage. James bows with "Untouchable", a son of unrequited love that's stark and martial in its construction. There's a distinct pop sensibility here in spite of the stripped down arrangement.

Lara James can work with songs with sparse arrangements because she has a voice that fills up that sonic space. While perhaps not a belter, she shows a warm, full voice on Why Wouldn't I that runs from affable to sultry; with a quietly commanding presence that cuts to the heart of each every song. Some producer is going to get hold of James and make a huge star out of her with glitzy pop songs, but this musical milieu is where she shines brightest.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

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