Laurel Brauns | Swimming

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United States - Oregon

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Folk: like Ani Rock: Acoustic Moods: Type: Acoustic
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by Laurel Brauns

Nostalgic ballads about coming of age in rural New England & traveling in Ireland, produced with arrangements of Irish traditional instruments, drum-set and bass.
Genre: Folk: like Ani
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Saturday Night
4:06 $0.99
2. Swimming
6:42 $0.99
3. Stranger
6:34 $0.99
4. Lifejacket
6:08 $0.99
5. Angels in Her Eyes
4:48 $0.99
6. Do I?
6:19 $0.99
7. Whiskey & Fiddles
6:08 $0.99
8. Shelter Me
5:45 $0.99
9. I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You
5:02 $0.99
10. Child of Light
7:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Laurel's voice is the most distinctive part of her first full-length album, entitled Swimming. At times it is aerial like Dar Williams with Irish inflections - other times it is smoky and rough around the edges. The subject matter is equally diverse, combining coming of age ballads set in New England and Ireland with memorable images and metaphors. The tone ranges from nostalgic: with melancholy arrangements of fiddles and uillean pipes, to upbeat and angsty, with drum-set and male vocal harmonies.

Swimming showcases the best of five years of singing/songwriting by Laurel, and eight months of rehearsals and recording in basements and living rooms in Portland, Oregon. The album was recorded independently with friend and engineer Dave Casey and, as a result of the extra time spent in the studio, it is professional while still maintaining the raw emotion of a debut. Laurel talks about her inspiration: "I grew up in a little town in New Hampshire just south of the Appalachians, population 7,000, and most of those years were spent skidding around in pick-up trucks, drinking Schlitz Tall-boys, kind of going crazy from wanting something. 'Apathy Drenched in Alcohol' was a really bad poem I wrote in high school. It's ironic because most of the stories on this album are either a longing for that ruralism that I was trying so hard to escape, or else just stories about figuring out where home is..."

Laurel is a storyteller. Her honesty is refreshing and her vulnerability is endearing. Her live show combines the folk-rock material of her more recent project, the coffeehouse style of her first album with a few Irish drinking songs thrown in. "I'm confident enough to be a little more controversial now, to stir things up a bit by addressing political and sexual topics more head-on... My audience can identify wih a challenge to our sugar-coated culture." Laurel has recently performed at the Northwest Music Festival as well as a number of bars and coffee houses in the Portland, Oregon area. After recording a second album, Laurel will be touring the New England college circuit in the fall.



to write a review

Daniel O'Meara

So very beautiful
I have owned Laurel's second album, Periphery, for a while now and absolutely love it, so I was saddened to see this album listed as out of print on her website. Thankfully, I noticed that it was indeed still available on CDBaby and ordered it immediately. This album is simply put, fantastic. There is a celtic feel to much of Swimming and Laurel is so well suited for it. In particular, my favorite song, Child of Light, uses the Celtic style to produce an incredible tapestry of beautiful sounds. She is also incredible when playing more standard songs, like her gorgeous cover os "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You." Laurel has a unique talent for writing great songs and then filling them up with exquisite, lush orchestration. It is very interesting to hear Laurel finding her voice on this album. Periphery has a very distinct sound and on Swimming, you can hear it starting to materialize. I happened upon Laurel in a local newspaper, found her samples here on CDBaby, and have fallen in love with her music. I play her songs for everyone I know now and can't wait for more masterpieces in the future.


I only wish there were more
I first heard Laurel on the "Fleadh" disc and was thoroughly blown away. I've been an Ani fan for ages and while Laurel tends to be a bit less bubbly than Mrs. DiFranco, she's every bit the songwriter and performer. "Swimming" is an amazing album and well worth the money. While it is folk, and that may turn some people off, there are just too many other elements and styles encased here to be stereotypical in any way. I can't wait for more music and shows. Thanks Laurel.

Jonas Lerman

Ani + Dar + Joni. . . Not even close.
All right.

First, a confession: I'm a friend of Laurel's. But I would love SWIMMING even if I'd never met Laurel and had never heard these songs. It's a testament to her music, I think, that I've been listening to these songs for more than two years, yet they still sound fresh, honest, sincere, and new. Laurel describes these songs as "angsty" -- they're anything but. The production is clean, straightforward, and simple; here, the songs take center stage.

If you like Dar Williams, Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, Melissa Ferrick, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, David Gray, Aimee Mann, Cowboy Junkies, The Innocence Mission, or Erin McKeown, you will like Laurel Brauns. Really. I promise.

Buy this album. And expect to hear a lot more from Laurel in the future. This is just the beginning for her.