Laurel Brauns | Periphery

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Folk: Folk Pop Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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by Laurel Brauns

"Elegantly arranged modern folk-pop with a dash of 70's songwriters influence, laurel's second album is collection of stories-in-song laced with georgeous layers of violin and cello." - jeff saltzman
Genre: Folk: Folk Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Wash the Paint Away
4:37 $0.99
2. Periphery
3:45 $0.99
3. Cathedrals
4:26 $0.99
4. Backroads
4:39 $0.99
5. Glass Shoes
3:17 $0.99
6. Going Back to Boston
3:48 $0.99
7. Dancer
3:14 $0.99
8. Flourescent Scraps of Yarn
3:06 $0.99
9. Bankrupt on Selling
3:40 $0.99
10. Percy Schmeiser
4:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Laurel Brauns

From years of busking on the streets of Galway, Ireland, to entertaining skiers in the lodges of New England, to playing at some of Boston's loudest bars, Laurel Brauns has learned the art of silencing a crowd. Performing Songwriter called Laurel's voice "heavenly and haunted . . . like a ghost off the moors" and heralded it as "an arresting, powerful force" (April 2003). Laurel's first album, Swimming, was recorded in 2001 in the basement of her college music building and, over the course of the next year and a half, sold nearly 2,000 copies and received national media attention. The fourth track, a story-song about a retired coast guard Laurel met outside a bus station in Salt Lake City, won Best Celtic Song at the Just Plain Folks Awards for its strong balladry and ghostly Irish arrangements of uilleann pipes, fiddle, and pennywhistle.

On her new album, Periphery, Laurel established her own record label, Red Trail Records, and choose to record in Jackpot!, one of Portland's most renowned independent studios and home to legendary engineer Larry Crane (Elliot Smith, Sleater-Kinney). Besides his engineering duties on
Periphery, Crane also agreed to co-produce the album with Laurel. Their partnership turned out to be highly gratifying. Crane says of the project, "I have worked with many run-of-the-mill songwriters, and Laurel Brauns is not one of them. Her intricate guitar playing, thoughtful and passionate lyrics, and clear voice were a treat to record." Making Periphery wasn't cheap, however, so in the summer of 2003 Laurel took a job in Alaska to work off the debt she had amassed. "Pretty much I lived in a tent to pay off this album," she says, and it's the truth: she spent three months in Denali National Park, working at a restaurant by day and playing songs for visitors by night.

Periphery's lush arrangements of strings, piano, drums and bass can be attributed to Laurel's new band, Queen Anne's Lace, which formed for the express purpose of recording the album and playing gigs around the Portland area. Periphery's full band sound and unconventional stories mark a step a way from straightforward folk. Laurel says her approach to songwriting has changed substantially in the last few years: "Now I'm less willing to feel sorry for myself or be self-righteous," she says. "Most of these new songs are left unsettled and unresolved. They emphasize the gray
areas and leave room for possibility."

At the center of the new album, both thematically and schematically, is "Backroads," perhaps Laurel's most political song to date. Written partially as a response to 9/11 and the ensuing so-called War on Terror, "Backroads" blends the personal and political so adroitly that it's hard to tell the difference between the two. Ostensibly it is the story of a cross-country car trip that Laurel made in 2002. But the song's scope broadens gradually as it moves along, like a movie camera zooming out, panning across the ravaged modern American landscape. "Backroads" becomes, ultimately, a new kind of National Anthem, a radical "Star Spangled Banner" for the rest of us: the bike messengers and bellboys, the office temps and baristas, the dishwashers and cubicle-confined working stiffs-all of us who find ourselves on the periphery of this "kingdom of highways, strip malls, and SUVs."In the song's chorus, Laurel promises, "I'll take the backroads, I'll take the backroads," repeating the line again and again and asking finally, pleadingly, "Will you meet me there?" It is one of Periphery's most hopeful and rousing moments. Amid so much longing, loss, and emotional starkness, the plea that Laurel Brauns makes for a new kind of community and a new definition of patriotism feels especially moving-and, these days desperately needed.



to write a review

Daniel O'Meara

A True Artist is Born
I love a great performance as much as the next person. It takes true talent to perform music well and I appreciate that ability. Laurel certainly has it and there is not a false note on this album. However, what sets her asside from so many musicians out there today, especially the types found on American Idol or most Top 40 stations, is that she also happens to be an incredible song-writer with a unique sound. Laurel's songs all have a unique sound that is distinctly hers and the sheer quality of the work is astounding. Her lyrics are in her own style, with all sorts of cool little repetitions for emphasis. She has developed a style of singing that fits her voice perfectly and is quite dynamic at the same time and her songs are all catered to that style. The use of strings on the album is as good as I have ever heard and it makes her songs sound twice as beautful as they already inherently are. The arrangements make Periphery feel like it was made for a million dollars. Back Roads has on a number of times actually brought tears to my eyes and stands out as my favorite track on the album, but I adore each and every song so much that it's a bit silly to call any my favorite. Simply put, everyone should own a copy of this album. It is musical brilliance and hopefully marks the beginning of a long successful career.


Excelent CD Love it.
Every cd was great and I would love to hear more when they come out. The singing is great and wonderful. Keep up the good work. B J

chris durant

excellent cd, each song is well crafted and very powerful. i worked out to it all week.


Laurel Brauns vocals on Periphery bleed into the edges of sensation, nostalgia and sentiment, stirring in the listener hope and memory.

How to define Periphery?

When I walked into the local record store that was playing the CD. I was immediately interested in the artist. Periphery has a base foundation of neo-folk definition with a little bit of soothing 70s sound mixed in. The album relies most heavily upon Laurel Brauns' beautiful vocals. She has a very accomplished voice that can chamelion itself into a thousand different and equally pleasing variations. The second strength to this album is the sometimes understated but always strong, acoustic guitar and violin. The violin especially adds a dramatic and appreciated flare.

To me, Periphery, is comparable to a feminine version of a Ryan Adams' album. Laurel Brauns voice sounds akin to a blend of Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco and Jewel.

I would say that Periphery would most appeal to a younger set, since the lyrics are a little early twenties-centric. Anyone would enjoy her voice though.

Since I bought Periphery it hasn't been out of my CD player and since she plays locally I'm planning on seeing her live.

I would recommend her to anyone and everyone.

ken lawrence

fond memories of what may or may not have been
shortly after 9/11 on tvland the channel ran a promo that talked about the place that may or may not have really been in our country that was perfect. this cd captures that longing for that perfect place in our memory. whether or not you support the so called war on terror, we could all use a little more love, and civility in our lives. for me laurel's second cd is my first fall in new england. trips to the eastern states exposision cool but lovely weather, and simple pleasures like the tase of a clamb fritter or an apple and even my first winter at the oak hill school for the blind in hartford. sliding on a snowy hill on a taboggin or going to an ice rink and being pulled around on a sled. maybe that place we long for never really was there but maybe we all should try for it in the future by being more kind to each other.


Good cd, I like it.


Truly a great listen and worth the time.
"Periphery" Is well worth a listen if you want to hear some wide open lyrics that have the ability to effect you on many levels. The songs "Backroads" and "Going Back to Boston" honestly gave me the 'good' shivers. The strings are tight across the board, with some colorful mandolin and violin strokes. "Glass Shoes" is a song that I would call a simple pleasure, it uses a nice splash of trumpet and Laurel's beautiful voice makes it a real jewl. Simply put, "Periphery" is not a good recording to miss hearing.


love it, listen to it all the time.
Laurel did an outstanding job with this album, i absolutely love it, i wasnt into this type of music, but talking to Laurel, she told me she was a singer and just put out an album, folkish, is how she described it. i thought that was funny, but i really like it.