From The Blue House (Free Union Records)
By: Jeb Branin
If this grizzled and fat old punk rock professor has one guilty pleasure (okay, I have several but the other ones have no bearing on this review) it is a very weak spot for a talented female with an acoustic guitar. Whether it is the raw folk of early Valerie Stadler or the passion of Tracy Chapman (my all time favorite female music artist) or even the overdone sound of Joan Osbourne, I love it. Add Lauren Hoffman to that list. Her silk and leather vocals mixed with her intelligent and provocative lyrics are just the ticket. She takes her music all over the place from quasi-folk to pop to jazz and back again and she does it all primarily with her voice and a guitar. Everything else that is thrown in is just a supporting cast. Strip it all away and the album would hardly lose a step in vitality although it would probably be less marketable (the taste of the masses, y'know). Lauren does a tremendous job of bearing her soul through her music and that soul shows a women who knows who she is and knows what she expects but at the same time is still beautiful, compassionate, and as I said, intelligent. Lauren has been getting some national attention recently and it is well deserved. Do yourself a favor if you like this kind of music and track this CD down.
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