Anyone who knows me well has heard me speak of my soft spot for female singer-songwriters. Abigail Washburn, Jessica Lea Mayfield and even Norah Jones are all artists that I keep in steady rotation. So to find endearing qualities in Laura K. Balke’s latest album, Rumors & Legends, was no stretch. The songs fell nicely within my comfort zone.
The album is the third full-length release from the Princeton, IN native. It was produced by John Autry and recorded in whatever quiet space proved convenient – a piano warehouse, an empty art gallery, and a variety of apartments. The efforts resulted in eleven songs that underscore Balke’s strengths as a writer.
Though not an overriding theme, there is an element of pop in Rumors & Legends. She carves out a character of defiant confidence, not unlike the ones portrayed in songs by Top 40 starlets Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson. However, a darkness is present here that’s lacking for those artists. Her emotions translate in the writing, never missing a syllable, she is clearly a musician that values the lyric. This comes as no surprise, unlike the bulk of Swift’s work, these songs were written entirely by the singer.
Also departing from the Top 40 formula is Balke’s refusal to dress her songs up. There’s no layering of choruses with a dozen vocal tracks or a fifteen-man backing band. Though her band complements nicely, Balke’s acoustic guitar and voice lie at the core of every song on Rumors and Legends.
Saturday night, Balke and her band debuted songs from Rumors & Legends at an album release party at Earth House. Listen to the album in its entirety below. Purchase the album via Balke’s bandcamp page. Hard copies include beautiful artwork that corresponds with each individual track.
Written by Rob Peoni