Dear Nashville, please don’t ruin Laurie Anne. On “Ready to Ride,” her first ever studio album, Laurie Anne collaborates with her former bandmate, Blues Hall Of Fame Inductee, Fred “Midnight Slim” Scribner. Together with Scribner, who also produced and played guitar on the album, Laurie Anne creates something that manages to be both nostalgic and completely fresh. Like Jimmer, a featured artist from February, Laurie Anne got her start in the 80s fronting a promising band. Again, like Jimmer, life intervened and Laurie Anne essentially retired from the music scene for over 20 years. At the urging of Scribner, Laurie Anne is back with “Ready to Ride,” an inviting mix of covers and new material able to engage audiences of all ages.
Laurie Anne tried her hand at writing for the first time with the album’s title track, “Ready to Ride,” a sashaying ode to the throwback country standards of the 50s and 60s. It’s hard to believe while listening that it’s not a song already in the country music catalogue and it showcases her previously unknown songwriting talent. As a singer she has the twang of Loretta Lynn and a young June Carter Cash, most easily recognizable on “Break Me Down,” a Grand Ol’ Opry-ready single just waiting to be performed.
A departure from recently reviewed material, this album is about as country as it gets with the excellent guitar picking of Scribner backing up each track. This is no “Florida Georgia Line” pop/country debacle, this is real country music. The type that many lament seems to have faded from the national scene. The slow burn of “Locked Up” brings nothing fancy in the way of background instrumentation- steady percussion and obligatory steel guitar riffs- but together with Laurie Anne’s vocals sounds like a long-time country classic. The excellent refrain and verses provide plenty of jailhouse metaphors befitting the title (ie “this is love in the first degree”); however, it avoids the trap of sounding hackneyed or cliché simply through the power of her voice.
The track “Feels Like Home” feels like a hit. It is a perfect dancehall slow dance that does predecessors like Emmylou Harris proud. Laurie Anne’s vocals and cadence are so wonderfully retro that she already sounds like a classic artist. Her breathing is measured, her notes held perfectly. “Sweet Dreams,” a cover of the old Patsy Cline standard, is appropriately melancholy. Her voice more than does the song justice and she carries the notes and the slightly slowed tempo beautifully. She’s got elements of the greats, like Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker but her vocals are still uniquely her own. The word “interpreter” feels like an apt description and it will be exciting to watch her navigate the new world of country music. Let’s hope that she avoids the new Nashville scene and maintains the classic sound she carries so well. “Ready to Ride” is out now and available on iTunes, CDbaby and Amazon.com.