Charleston Native Hoping To Make Bigger Splash With Her Second EP
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
While she released her first EP (2014) while just a teenager, 23 year old Charleston native Lauren Hall is hoping to make a bigger splash in country music with her upcoming EP, set for release this summer. The debut single 'Backwards' and the more recent 'Gone' have garnered mild success on streaming playlists with the former finding room on 'New Music Nashville'.
Hall admits her appreciation for country music began a little more than ten years ago. "I actually grew up not having a ton of country music influences because my parents didn't really listen to it much. I discovered country and a lot of my favorite artists when I was a young teenager."
One particular crossover artist lit the flame. "Since I hadn't really been exposed to the genre, much my first influence was early Taylor Swift back when I was 11 years old. I just loved her writing style and the way she connected with people, so that kind of set a model for the kind fo artist I wanted to be. I later discovered a love for artists such as Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, and of course, Miranda Lambert."
With Hall's vocal style and enthusiasm she often draws comparisons to Lambert. "She is probably my number one musical influence! I do get compared to her all the time and I really consider it such an honor because she's such an amazing songwriter, performer, and vocalist."
Hall adds, "I love how real, authentic, and completely true to herself she is. When you go to a Miranda show it's not about the glitz and glam of her as an artist necessarily. She just walks out with her band and makes it about the music more than just putting on a "show" kind of deal."
Comparisons are nice, but more than anything Hall wants to set herself apart. "My music is definitely more on the country side, but still has a little modern edge to it."
She hopes that's apparent with her new music. "While recording this new EP, I really wanted to find my own sound and have it be organic and not as "produced" sounding as a lot of music coming out of Nashville sounds right now. I feel like I found a fresh sound with touches of tradition on some songs, and others that lean toward a more contemporary country feel."
Discovering her love for country music just prior to entering high school, what was it about genre that drew her in. "Country music to me tells the stories of everyday people in a real and raw way that just feels different than others genres. Music is meant to connect people and all types of music can do that, but country just has a unique way of story telling that is all it's own. I was drawn to country because of the songwriting and also the musicality of it."
Her love for the Nashville sound goes much deeper than today. "Country and pop have kind of merged in today's modern country sound, but the root of country music has such an organic and interesting sound that showcases so many beautiful instruments like mandolin, pedal steel, fiddle, etc. While there are some more modern sounding artists emerging on the country scene, there are also artists who are bringing back the neo-traditional sound as well."
Hall is happy how she has progressed as an artist and songwriter, and says it reflects on the new EP. "It has really captured who I am as an artist and I'm really proud to be able to say that because going into recording it I was very adamant about finding my own sound."
She credits several Music City types with helping her develop her sound. "A big reason I was able to find that sound was because of the team I had around me. My two producers, Dan Frizsell and Phillip Lammonds, really helped develop that sound with me. All the Nashville musicians who tracked on the EP were a huge part of that too, as well as my band here in town."
How does she describe the new EP. "It's a good mix of contemporary Country with a traditional twist at times. There are seven songs featured on the EP, some that I've been playing live for the last couple years and others that people haven't heard."
Hall is not afraid to open up thru her music. "Throughout the EP you hear a range of real and raw emotions from the sting of heartbreak to the carefree feelings of falling in love. My first single, 'Backwards', kind of sums up all of those experiences and is about how even the painful, broken seasons can play a part in your story and bring about good even if it doesn't feel good in the moment."
'Backwards' she feels was the ideal debut single. "I released this song first because it was right around when everything shut down due to Covid-19, and the song felt like a timely message for what we all were going through. I wrote it actually a couple years ago when I was on vocal rest and not able to speak for a month. During that time I also didn't play shows for 7 months, so in a way my life and career felt as though it was put on pause."
To her 'Backwards' has a deeper meaning. "This song is about how I feel like God can use the uncertain, broken parts of our stories and weave them into something better than we could have even thought of or imagined. He always has a plan for good, even if it doesn't make sense or feel good in the moment. Writing this song was my way of keeping the faith that everything was going to work out and that someday I would look back on that season and find the purpose in it. It's funny because that song really did come true."
Hall realizes a more divine intervention helped her get through the recording process. "When I was on that pause I started going to Nashville and working on the pre-production for this EP, and looking back at how everything fell into place, I'm not sure it would have worked out the way it did, had my own plans not been interrupted."
It has a measure of Swift's early breakup songs. "I wrote this song from a place of being treated second best in a relationship and finally deciding that it wasn't worth it anymore for me to keep letting this toxic relationship back into my life after being hurt time and time again." Hall adds, it's the kind of song that takes back control of your life. "It has a very empowering, kind of country-rock feel, which really makes it stand out in the group of songs. I wanted this song to have an "edge" to it to really go with the emotion behind the story."
The accompanying video has familiar scenes. "Speaking of the story, we actually just released the official music video for this song two weeks ago! It was all filmed here in Charleston and features a cast of all locals. The idea was to portray this guy who was dating and stringing along a bunch of girls at once going on the same dates, saying the same thing, etc. It was a lot of fun to shoot! The full video is available on YouTube now."
Staying true to form and connected to her music, Hall writes many of her songs. "I do write most all of my music, but I also co-write sometimes as well. I co-wrote two of the seven songs on my upcoming EP with a writer named Phillip Lammonds, who is originally from South Carolina, and actually helped found a well known band here in town called The Blue Dogs. He's now a writer with Curb Records in Nashville, and he also co-produced the EP along with my other producer Dan Frizsell who recently produced "Rumor" by Lee Brice."
Like Swift and Lambert, Hall's lyrics come from everyday life. "I do solo write quite a bit, so my process is typically just sitting with my guitar coming up with melody ideas or sometimes I'll have a lyric hook already and go from there. I write a lot from personal experiences and relationships, so most of my song inspiration comes from those kind of situations."
While it's hard to crack traditional country music radio, Hall admits Spotify and other streaming services have been a Godsend to younger, and up and coming artists.
"It's extremely important! I have really had to educate myself on the music industry today and how it's changing before releasing any new material. There's a lot of great opportunities with platforms such as Spotify, because you have a chance to be on a big playlist, and be exposed to a whole new audience of listeners."
She experienced that with the release of 'Backwards' "When it was added to the playlist 'New Music Nashville' that really pushed the song, and helped me gain a lot of new followers and listeners that had never heard my music before."
Without additional support many solo or unsigned performers have to do much of the work themselves. "As an independent artist you a lot of times are responsible for doing all the jobs a record label would do for you, so it is vital to learn as much as you can about the current music services and platforms."
Like many during self isolation, the pandemic allowed Hall to focus on what needed to be done to further her career. "This time has actually been kind of helpful for me because like I mentioned above, there's a lot to learn and do before releasing new music, so I've spent the majority of my time getting all the promo and content together to release."
She is quick to add, "I've also enjoyed having some space to be creative and write new material during this time. It can be difficult to write sometimes when you get so absorbed in the business side of booking your own band, playing shows back to back, etc., so this break has been nice in that aspect. I am very happy to be back playing some shows this summer around Charleston though!"
She does have some low country gigs coming up in June. "I'll be playing the new Firefly Distillery in North Charleston on June 19th and 20th at a summer concert series called "Safe Sounds" presented by Ear For Music. It's a weekly music series being held out in the field at Firefly on Friday's and Saturday's 7-10 pm and tickets are on sale now on the Charleston City Paper website. I'll also be out at Deep Water Vineyard June 27th for an event with 92.5 Kickin Country called "Weekend Wine Down" and that will be 1-4 pm."
Hall says she's inspired by her low country roots. "Being born and raised here in Charleston has really given me such an appreciation and love for this city. My happy place is anywhere near the water, so I love how you can go pretty much anywhere in town and be surrounded by the ocean. However, the skyline of church steeples is probably my personal favorite view because my faith is very important to me and I love how we are called "The Holy City"."
The low country is depicted in her lyrics. "As a songwriter, I am really am inspired by how Charleston has captured these moments in time for people to connect with and learn from, kind of like how timeless songs can be. We have so much history and beauty in our town and people are drawn here for that very reason."
Some of her favorite places to perform or see a concert are, "I would say my favorite venues here in town for music would have to be the Charleston Music Hall, Music Farm or Volvo Car Stadium. If I'm just going around town with friends my favorite spots are usually Shem Creek or the beaches, mainly because it's near the water."
Hall's blend of old school and contemporary country music is quite refreshing. It just might set her apart from the other young females chasing their dream in Nashville. To catch the video for 'Gone,' click here.
For more on Lauren Hall visit her website at https://laurenhallmusic.com/