Lauren Ruth Ward Reveals The Many Facets Of Her Being At The Teragram
LOS ANGELES, CA- The artists who have long and fruitful careers tend to be those who are capable of evolving. These days, with short attention spans and the ever-changing landscape of what’s hip in music, it’s almost a necessity for recording artists to really push boundaries and explore all of the nooks and crannies that their musicality inhabits. Lauren Ruth Ward is one of those artists.
I’ve been religiously following Lauren Ruth Ward’s musical path for years, and she never fails to impress me. Whether she’s rocking a festival stage to a crowd of thousands, holding her own and standing out on a stage with her equals, or playing a stripped-down set to an intimate crowd, her energy and vibrance truly sets any stage she is gracing on fire. But it wasn’t until I saw her perform as Aging Actress with SWIMM’s Chris Hess that I truly realized her musical brilliance. The way she effortlessly abandoned the wild and free “Lauren Ruth Ward” that I had been accustomed to and lay bare her soul performing as Aging Actress really opened my eyes, and … no hyperbole … moved me.
When she announced her show at the Teragram, which was essentially an album release show for her sophomore album Vol. II which was released in March 2020, it was advertised as a “Farewell Show” on the flyer, noting that it would be “guest starring” Aging Actress and that there would also be the debut performance of her new project, Heaven Electric. Mon Dieu. We would be getting every ounce of Lauren on this evening. Every incarnation. I was anxious with anticipation.
Kicking off the evening’s entertainment was Alicia Blue, a lovely singer-songwriter who has a demonstrably strong handle of lyrics and storytelling. Though I was familiar with her repertoire having been introduced to her music via her single “Magma”, this was actually my first time catching Alicia perform live.
I thought that Alicia’s performance set the table perfectly for the rest of the night. The earthy texture of her music and her dulcet soprano voice was a sublime pairing, giving the audience something soothing to stir the auditory senses.
There’s also a certain way that Alicia delivers the lyrics she sings that makes the experience feel very personal. Every word she sings feels true and honest, absent any kind of facade, and that’s perhaps the most appealing thing about her music, and something I think that truth… that sincerity… that believability… can distinguish her from others running in the singer-songwriter pack.
The pace and tempo of the evening got kicked up a notch with the indie-pop, new wave joy that Caroline Kinsbury brought to the stage following Alicia Blue.
I had seen Caroline perform a few weeks earlier during an afternoon set at an artisan pop-up hosted by Rain Phoenix. Sonically, it was an enjoyable performance that got me interested in her music… but holy cow. This performance blew my mind. The differences were night and day.
She was still sporting the bright pink hair that I saw her with at the first performance, but this time around she was glammed up with carefully crafted makeup, perhaps inspired by Bowie, and maybe a hint of KISS, and a bold and bright outfit, with tights matching her hair.
The flamboyance of the performance matched the flamboyance of her look, and as she danced around the stage she gave off a rock star energy with every step she took and every finger she pointed. Her attitude was fierce and bold and that made her music that much more impactful. It was a phenomenal performance that really got the room dancing along with her.
After a brief intermission, the house lights dimmed to near darkness as Lauren Ruth Ward and Chris Hess of SWIMM took the stage as Aging Actress. This would be the first of three incarnations of Lauren this evening, and it was absolutely lovely.
They only performed two songs (“All at Once” and “Sing Pretty”), but it was enough of a taste to give the audience a little something-something that’ll linger in their souls for months to come. The vulnerability. The absolute nakedness of emotion. Sublime.
There’s also the unique contrast of Lauren and Chris’ singing styles that will linger with the listener. Lauren’s raspy alto coupled with Chris’ delicate tenor… it’s almost a contradiction in expectations. But it’s that irony that gives their duets so much of an identity, and what a sonic identity it is. I’ve been nudging them about it since I first heard them, but Aging Actress deserves to be pressed on vinyl, and I’ll be the first one in line to pick up a copy.
After Chris departed the stage, Lauren was joined on stage by Eduardo Rivera (lead guitar), Madi Vogt (drums), Liv Slingerland (bass), Jason Goldstein (keys), and Emma Cole (backing vocals) and performed the “Lauren Ruth Ward” part of the concert. The setlist was split between cuts off of Vol. II (“Valhalla”, “Real Life For The Most Part”, “Pull String”, “Water Sign”, “Wise Gal”) and her beloved cuts from Well Hell (“Well, Hell”, “Blue Collar Sex Kitten”, “Did I Offend You”. She also played three songs from what I assume will be on a future album, “Suburban Ego” (a song that she opened with, that I actually wasn’t familiar with, and I don’t think is available on any streaming platform) and “Sing In The Shower” and “Pain”, the official videos for which you can find on Lauren’s YouTube Channel.
The “Lauren Ruth Ward” portion of the concert was everything that I’ve come to expect from this Scorpio siren. Fun and sassy, edgy and mischievous. A loud, rocking good time all around.
The only moment that Lauren may have “broken character” was when she took a moment to acknowledge Eduardo for her development as an artist. Eduardo had previously decided to pursue some solo ventures, particularly composing for film and TV, so this performance was essentially his last, for the foreseeable future, as a member of Lauren Ruth Ward’s band. Lauren expressed her love to Eduardo and was clearly getting emotional thinking about their journey together.
Lauren then closed the evening’s musical offerings with the debut performance of her new project, Heaven Electric. Heaven Electric is Lauren’s collaborative effort with Andrew Berkeley Martin. Joining them on stage were Logan Baudean (bass) and Ashton Irwin (drums). Do you think “Lauren Ruth Ward” rocks? Hang on … you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Heaven Electric hits a little harder. Heaven Electric hits a little louder. Heaven Electric hits a bit sexier.
During the lockdown in LA, Lauren actually gave me a sneak peek at a couple of rough mixes that she had of Heaven Electric, and with one listen I could tell that her collaboration wtih Andrew, who is crazy slick on the ax, was going to take the sonics to another level. But it’s one thing to hear a recording over speakers, even cranked at a loud volume, and another to actually see and hear it manifest live, and in your face. Minds were blown on this night… including mine.
Although they only played three songs (“Messiah”, “Mindseye”, and “Heaven Electric”), the room could see the camaraderie and hear the sonic synergy of Heaven Electric manifest at that moment, and it had us all longing for more of this new facet of Lauren. I trust that whatever she and they have in store, we won’t be disappointed.
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