This album will soon be available for purchase at Anna Laube’s online store. You can buy her other recordings and merch there as well.
You can support Anna Laube’s Patreon project here.
If there is one thing you can say about Anna Laube it’s that she’s well-traveled. Though her area code is Los Angeles, where she lives may depend on her current touring stop, or which studio she is currently recording in and with what musician she is currently seeking out. Laube took up the road as an artistic quest which led to her second recording, 2009’s Pool All the Love, Pool All the Knowledge, which was recorded in living rooms all across the country. This time out, on her third, eponymous recording, she’s utulized studios in every corner of the U.S. A single song on the new record might incorporate as many as five facilities and numerous contributors. Yet everything somehow centers on Laube herself, her captivating, breathy vocals, sweet melodies and her uncanny multi-instrumental talents and production skills.
There is something ultimately American in Laube’s music, like a Rockwell painting, custom made for public radio and the intimate American experience, seeped in books, open vistas, meaningful friendships and resonating with influences that cross state lines and musical genres. Anna Laube is like a mash-up of Nashville country, New Orleans and Chicago blues, Midwestern roots, California folk, Pacific Northwest hip and New York jazz. They call this musical blend “Americana” but Laube’s music really defines what that means.
Alongside the numerous artistic contributors there are a few Madison notables that figure prominently. Drummer Adam Cargin (Blueheels, Williamson Street Drumworks) contributes to several tracks as does bassist Nick Moran. Dan Walkner (Wrenclaw and solo artist) adds vocals and harmonica. Anna Vogelzang provides gorgeous backing vocals to “Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes” and Corey Mathew Hart does the same on “Already There” as well as playing electric guitar elsewhere. Charley Wagner (Youngblood Brass Band, The Big Payback, Mama Digdown’s Brass Band) plays trumpet on “Bike Song.” Madisonians will surely recognize the name Leo Sidran who recorded several contributions to the album in New York City while offering his drum and vocal skills. Recording in Madison was done primarily at DNA Music Labs with Mark Whitcomb. Laube formed a friendship with world-class keyboardist Chuck Leavell (Sea Level, Allman Brothers Band) at a competition years ago and he contributes some fine piano and organ.
Performances from other players were recorded in their locales, several being done by Jason Quever (Papercuts) in San Francisco. Laube connected with him early in her career, recording her first record at his Pan American Recording Studio. Despite the varied contributions, both musical and from a production standpoint, the recording sounds remarkably fresh and cohesive.
Laube is an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist. She started at a young age learning piano, saxophone, and violin. She studied oboe at the Académie de Musique Grétry in Liège, Belgium. Here, in addition to guitar, she plays banjo, harmonica, organ and a variety of percussion instruments.
Of the ten songs, eight are originals with Laube covering the traditional “Cocaine Blues” (rearranging the tune and renaming it “Sugarcane”) as well as the country classic and oft-recorded “A Satisfied Mind.” Her originals are all outstanding but a few bear special mention. Opening track “Already There,” is a true gem, an easy-going song that is lifted by Laube’s banjo and digital celeste solo as well as Corey Hart’s beautiful backing vocals. The closing track, “Green,” is similarly breezy, uplifting and sentimental. Here Skylar Wilson’s organ is central while Nick Moran’s bass bubbles along underneath. Corey Hart adds some sweet electric guitar. “This One’s for You” is a paean to first love. This track starts as an acoustic guitar and vocal accented by a haunting slide guitar. Wilson’s soulful organ is perfect and the violin solo, played by Sam Bardfeld (Jazz Passengers) is movingly appropriate. The arrangement is awesome, each instrument adding a voice at just the right moment with Laube’s aching vocal gliding over the top.
Anna Laube is a complete work of art, from the poetic lyrics to the exquisite packaging. The booklet is adorned with Laube’s own paintings and photos. It’s all contained in an equally artistic letterpress cover. Fans who supported her Pledge Music campaign were rewarded with a bonus alongside the downloadable version of the album: a second collection of songs compiled by Laube featuring her “homies,” many of whom are from Madison. She details how she met each person making this a loving tribute to friendship and spirit, two terms that define Laube’s music but also her humanity.