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MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE WEEK:
MAY 18-24, 2014

Lauren Pritchard (aka Lolo)

I’m a big fan of Duncan Sheik. Back in 2009, I saw him play near me and he had two other people playing with him. Duncan was great. But the two people playing with him were also very talented. Talented enough that I’ve remembered them ever since.

One of them was announced at that show as Holly Brook. A year and a half after I saw her, a song called “Coming Home” began to be heard everywhere. It was a rap song by Diddy, but it featured this haunting sung vocal by a girl named Skylar Grey. I looked up Skylar and guess what. It turned out Skylar Grey was the new stage name of Holly Brook.

I later found out she wrote “Love the Way You Lie”, which was turned into a massive number one hit by Eminem and Rihanna and nominated for four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year, and saw her performing “I Need a Doctor” on the telecast of those same Grammy Awards alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre.

But Holly wasn’t the only serious talent on the stage with Duncan that evening.

The other person was announced as Lauren Pritchard. I can’t remember for sure if she played it at that show before Duncan came out or if I first heard it online after the show. But the first work of hers that really grabbed me was her song “Wasted in Jackson”.



Wasted

I really liked the song then and still do. It captures the yearning of a talented young person longing to escape the constraints of a hometown they’ve outgrown to make their mark in the larger world.

The hometown Lauren is referring to in the song is Jackson, Tennessee. And, though much different in style, the sentiment in “Wasted in Jackson” reminds me a lot of some of the work of Josiah Leming, who is also from Tennessee and has written about his conflicted love/hate relationship with the place in songs like "Appalachia" with lyrics including:
“Wake up to find that I've outgrown my friends
Our seeds grew side by side but my roots grew thin
Then one day I blew away in autumn's restless wind
And she has never set me down”

“And when they lay my body in the green green grass
I will whisper quiet secrets to the animals that pass
Bout the times I knew I swore I was never coming back
But I lied cause inside
I am Appalachia”
I soon found out that Lauren’s big break came playing the 15-year-old homeless child Ilse in the smash hit musical Spring Awakening, for which Duncan Sheik wrote the music, as part of a cast that included Lea Michele before her Glee fame.

All these years later, “Wasted in Jackson” still pops in my head. So this week, after listening to it, I decided to see what Lauren has been up to.

First, I found a relatively new song of hers, released under her new stage name Lolo, called “Weapon for Saturday”. I really like this stripped down version of her performing it. I think it has some of the power and sass of Adele in it.


Then I found another relatively recent song of hers called “Year Round Summer of Love”, which is very different from the other songs of hers I’d heard, and which I also really like.


When you consider these three songs – “Wasted in Jackson”, “Weapon for Saturday” and “Year Round Summer of Love” – and then consider that this girl also played a homeless child in a Broadway musical - you realize that this is someone that can tackle a real diversity of styles, yet always inject deep soul into any of them. That’s impressive.

I also learned some other interesting things about Lauren Pritchard, such as:
  • Early in her career, she lived, for a time, with Lisa Marie Presley

  • She lists Aretha Franklin as one of her influences (perhaps that explains the soul in her voice)

  • She was featured on the Panic! at the Disco song “Miss Jackson”

  • She has performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on Conan (where she injected her soul into yet another different style in a song called “Not the Drinking”)
So, it’s pretty cool that when I thought I was just getting to see one great performer in Duncan Sheik, I actually ended up seeing three of them without even realizing it. And I’m still enjoying the music of Lauren Pritchard today.

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