There’s so many incredibly talented UK country artists emerging these days but surely one of the leading lights must be Liverpudlian Laura Oakes, who’s ever increasing fan base is testimony to both her hard work and talent. Now a frequent visitor to Nashville, she co-writes with some of music cities finest including Jeff Cohen, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Leslie Satcher, and last year was hand picked by Big Machine artist Lauren Jenkins to open her headline London show ( what an evening that was!).
With her previous acoustic EP “ Nashville Stole Your Girl” released in late 2017 to great critical acclaim, the bar was set high for this latest collection but judging by the reception to the singles already made available from its track listing ( “ Welcome to the Family” making it onto the prestigious BBC Radio 2 playlist) and now I’ve heard the EP in its entirety ahead of its release this Friday, 27th March
, it’s a challenge she has risen to admirably.
The five track EP kicks off with the afore-mentioned “ Welcome To The Family” , a warning to her partner about what to expect when she takes them home for the first time. It’s a great tongue in cheek song about the skeletons in the closet that every family surely has……” once you take a look behind the curtain there’s things you can’t unsee”.
With a strong back beat and banjo infused bluegrass style picking, it’s a great example of how she blends country charm and pop sensibilities so well.
Next up is “ Better In Blue Jeans” , a much more expansive sound all round on this track which extols the virtues of not forgetting where you come from and being wary of getting ideas above your station. With a very infectious anthemic chorus, the title being its tag line, it really demonstrates Laura’s strong vocals .
“Old Ghosts” , the latest single to be released from the EP, follows, a song about how we are shaped a lot more by things which have happened in the past than we may realise. But it’s something we must come to terms with otherwise they will haunt you and hold you back. Another very catchy chorus, some suitably “ spooky “ guitar effects and a real toe tapper.
“ Learn To Be lonely Again “ is a song I fell in love with immediately I heard Laura play it live, so I was looking forwards to hearing this studio version. A stripped back, guitar led ballad with some mournful minor chords in the mix, Laura sings with incredible feeling about wondering what would happen if she ever found herself without the love of her life. Yes, she’d survive but she doesn’t want to learn to be lonely again “ now that I’ve kissed your lips a thousand times “. Stunner of a song delivered with perfection.
Leaving the title track to the end, “ How Big Is Your World” has surely taken on a whole new meaning since it was written in light of current world events….especially it’s opening lines in which Laura sings about locking doors, closing blinds and shutting out the world as it’s safer inside. “ But don’t you feel restless?” she continues , and how many of us are feeling that way right now! But of course that’s purely coincidence, this song is a thought provoking write about the world’s mysteries and all the exciting things there are for you to discover and experience. Another gentle track which builds as it progresses, It has a dreamy, ethereal feel to it and made me draw comparisons between Laura and Kacey Musgraves, partly because of the production but also vocally…I wonder if any of you hear that too?
I’m loving this entire EP, which demonstrates to me how much Lara is evolving as an artist. It will no doubt further cement Laura’s position as a force to be reckoned with in contemporary country music, not only here in the UK but hopefully across the pond to.
You can catch Laura at 4.30pm GMT
on her Facebook page, chatting and performing a song a day while these troubled and challenging times continue.