“Years of travelling seems to have taught Rachel Laven the benefits of packing light. Riding along in her tour van, it’s easy to notice that she is efficient and unencumbered by the many thankless articles that tie plenty of people down. In her company she keeps her guitar (an Aubade Acoustic, handmade by luthier Michael Armand out of LeCompte, Louisiana), a garden basket of healthy road snacks, a light bag of well chosen outfits and of course, her grandmother’s heirloom Luccheses. It is this efficiency, further reflected in the mindfulness Laven puts into her writing that helps her songs come across as so relatable. Focusing on topics that stem from a watchful, warm perspective, the delivery of her observations has a clean way of driving themes straight to the heart of a matter. She is able to sing her truths without weighing them down with unnecessary words or flowery nuances.
This economical ability to perform complex humanity in a clear headed way is what sets her apart as an artist. Laven is an earnest observer. American Roots Music has a long tradition of proficient storytellers breathing life into the characters of their songs. In listening to Laven’s ballads you can hear the quality of her watchful eye surveying a scene, piecing together the most relevant colors and textures of a personality and giving easy shape to the characters that she describes. The title song on her most recent album Love and Lucchese’s is a paramount example of this ability. As a listener you get the opportunity to slip your own feet into the hallmark boots, gifted to Laven by her immigrant grandmother. You get to feel the familial connection and the love and pride of accepting such a gift. Within her lyrics, you also get to see how she writes in the passage of time as a playful character in its own right, harboring a secret smile for those who know how to listen. Born into a home pulsing with songwriters and musicians she has observed the craftsmanship and labor that those before her have put into their art. Though modest in accepting a compliment about her practiced guitar skills, Laven is fierce in her abilities and can easily hold her own in the midst of seasoned pickers and performers. Biting her bottom lip and then smiling through difficult progressions; it’s easy to tell that she is having fun while challenging herself against a high bar of performance and precision. Her guitar seems like a spirited Akhal-Teke that she enjoys riding for the thrill of the smooth speed.
A positive force of nature on stage, Laven not only captivates with her smiling lyricism but with the timber of a voice that sounds straight out of her chest. In the tradition of her cherished influences: Susan Gibson, Terri Hendrix, Walt Wilkins, Slaid Cleaves, and Ani DiFranco, Laven’s vocalisations don’t strain too far from her speaking voice which is buoyant and melodic with a gentle,Texan accent. She is a powerhouse of energy, breathing through notes breezily with a passionate aire and a cool, side-smiling tonality. For years it has been Laven’s youth that has inspired many to comment on her exceptional abilities as a performer and though still beaming with the glow of youth, it is the commitment to her craft as an adult that strengthens the draw that she has with her audience. Laven seems to grow with every new song that she writes, as if each one were a personal project that she developed while internally dialoguing about life and love with herself. A classic intuit, she allows her songs to speak for themselves; giving them over to her audience with a soft disclaimer, “If you have glass hands, don’t hold me.” Yet, in her candor you know that she trusts the strength of her listeners, offering honest personal accounts and tributes. If the secret to a good life is indeed to dare, Rachel Laven is for sure living one. As a finalist in the 2016 Grassy Hill New Folk Songwriter’s Competition she showed up with her usual, calm confidence, winning over the audience and judges to gain entry into a cohort of outstanding songwriters including Robert Earl Keen, Jonathan Byrd, Anais Mitchell, and Slaid Cleaves. Daring to enter the songwriter’s competition won her the opportunity to empower herself as a professional songwriter, touring as a winner with the 2016 New Folk Class.
Today you can see Laven touring the U.S. and Europe performing songs from her soon-to-be released album Love & Lucchese’s which is set for world release this October, 2017. Vibrant, well-spoken and always reaching new heights, Rachel Laven will be known among the songwriters of her generation as an encouragement and inspiration to dare.” -Collins de la Cour
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