“State of Mind” is the first album from the talented Laura Evans, a singer-songwriter from Wales. We are always determined to present new listening pleasures for our readers, and for a debut album, this is a veritable chocolate box of differing tastes, with tracks grounded in the blues but with differing country or rock centre.

Our interview with Laura touched on her musical upbringing, the album, and touring plans for 2022. It’s an exciting time!

Laura – I’ve been singing since I was very young, about five or six. My aunt and uncle sang, and I would like to think that I pride myself on great songwriting. I am also a bit of a mix of genres. I love blues, rock, and a little country, so I straddle the different genres. I went to drama school in London as I thought I needed to get out of the valleys and make a name for myself, I’m not sure why I thought that as I was only fourteen and so young. But I still wanted to do music. I took a little detour as I got a record deal when I was about eighteen, and then I got dropped, so I ended up in London at twenty with no deal. I took a detour then and acted for a while, but it was never my passion as much as music, so I came back to it.

Laura Evans Live, Photograph by Adam Kennedy

For this interviewer, Laura reminds me a little of the Wilson sisters in Heart. A favourite of mine from the album is “Fire with Fire”, as it’s a real fightback from the shit song,

“I had a little talk with my hopes and fears,” Laura sings, and I wanted to know more about the track. Personally, I do think that as you get older and live life, the lyrics of this song mean more than they would have to a younger version of me.

Laura- Now I do like Heart, and that song I wrote in lockdown with my boyfriend. There was a lot going on in the news, and it wasn’t that I’d fallen out with a couple of friends, but there was a lot of time I had to think about things. It’s funny because I thought no one would relate to that song, it’s the most obscure song on the album. Everything else seems to tell a story about love, but that is my journey of my hopes and fears, and the lyrics just flew out. It is a ‘I can do it kind of song,’ a ‘I will stay in my lane and be true to myself message.’ 

We started to discuss how you need to have experienced life a bit to write the blues and how connecting to experience and hardship can aid the songwriting, and listening experience.

Laura- I don’t think I would have written “Fire with Fire” ten years ago, or maybe I wouldn’t have been brave enough to write it, I don’t know.

“Let you Down Easy” is another of those songs that lyrically is a mature song; it is wistful and speaks of experience,

“Love is like a season, it comes and goes.”

Laura- I love that song. I wrote it about three years ago, I was in Nashville and on a writing trip with a friend.I’ve always loved it and it was sitting in my dropbox. I did wonder if it was too sweet, maybe not ballsy enough for this album, but I took it to my producer and we made it more soulful. It’s about breaking up with someone and not being able to tell them. We’ve all been there at one point. My songwriting, I think, is rooted in the country as I spent time in Nashville and got into a lot of writing rooms, and people there know how to write a song, just the bare bones and tell a story. To be honest, for a time I wanted to break away from the country, I felt I wrote bluesy melodies and soulful lyrics, so I looked to move away from the country, but it’s still there. We wanted to be more blues rock, but then it became country and I just can’t get away from it!

There is a huge resurgence in country music today, especially in Africa (Nigeria and Malawi in particular). But listening to the album, there is a close connection to country legends like Shania Twain.

Laura – I listen to all this, and you know, when you write songs, whatever is in you comes out. If you listened to it as a kid, it comes through. As a kid, I loved Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin. But also The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, and a bit of rock ‘n’roll, so I’m definitely between soul and the blues.

It is a busy time in 2022. The album “State of Mind” was produced and engineered at the Momentum Studios in Plymouth by Josiah J. Manning and it is being supported by a tour that we moved on to talk about. As noted here, it’s a great album that we really recommend. It’s been on my playlist recently and makes for great driving music! Laura is part of the current vibrant blues scene.

Laura- The blues scene is a melting pot. I think that it’s a bit more rocky in the UK blues scene, in the US. If you go there, it is more straight blues, and rock is somewhere else. Here we ‘fuse’ rock more. There is a cool blues rock scene going on. As for the first album, I co-wrote, usually with one other person, and there were so many songs they had to be whittled down to eleven. It was recorded bit by bit. We would head in and record three songs, then go back a couple of months later. Also, there is the tour with Cardinal Black where I am on as their special guest, ten dates with them starting in Brighton on September 1st. So that tour is on, then I have a week off before going on tour with a Canadian Blues artist who is called Matt Andersen. I’m doing eight dates for that tour. All dates on the website!

By E.M. C. Chambers

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