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Laura Cortese - Into the Dark (Self Release)
San Francisco-born singer and fiddle player Laura Cortese, now re-located to Boston, releases her new full length solo album INTO THE DARK after a series of EPs and numerous collaborations. Throughout this period, the young musician has honed her own musical style and found her voice, which rings out loud and clear on such songs as the album's powerful opener For Catherine, which through metaphor tells of the brutal assault of a young woman by a group of drunken schoolboys. Throughout the album Laura employs some luscious string arrangements, performed by seasoned players such as Crooked Still's Brittany Haas, Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel, Long Time Courting's cellist Valerie Thompson, Blue Moon and the Unbuttoned Zippers' fiddler Mariel Vandersteel and Natalie Haas also on cello. If Laura Cortese's vocals are the heart of this record, then the strings are the soul.
Whilst Sean Staples' uplifting Heel to Toe is treated to a lilting Cajun feel, namesake Laura Veirs' July Flame-period Life is Good Blues employs a similar choppy arrangement, bringing something of a sprightly feel to Veirs' slightly more restrained original. Finally, the album closes with a fine duet with Jefferson Hamer on the John Tams arranged Lay Me Low. I confess, the album keeps finding its way to the top of the pile of cds, not just for the music, but for aesthetic reasons as well. An assured album that should in all fairness find its way into UK record collections before too long.