The words come through your speakers. Tense words. Sharp words. Hypnotic words. Words couched in grinding guitars and thudding drums, words thick with emotional desperation that also reveal the strangely paradoxical beauty in suffering; the diamonds in the cave, waiting to be mined. The words are those of Lauren O’Brien, one of the most exciting young poet-performers on the scene today.
“I love rock ’n’ roll, the passion and rebelliousness of it,” says Lauren. “But I want to be part of it in my own way—I want to take poetry and rock it out.”
Which is exactly what Lauren does—and then some—on Inconsequential Dream, her astonishing debut album. Take “color code,” a menacing, tension-rich rumination on love’s blurred lines of communication (“The colors in our code system / seem to keep switching on me”). Or the hard-hitting title track, which was inspired by the numerous mystic predictions about the year 2012 and the letting go of old ideas in order to live more fully in the new age (“Try to survive / it’s time / the quickening / the great purifying”). And then there’s “To Let Someone,” an acoustic guitar-laced allegory likening newfound spiritual energy to the acceptance of a former lover’s new mate (“To let someone / who is loved / by the one who used to love you / into your home / Well that is the thing/ that takes / the most courage”). Much like Lauren’s riveting live performances, inconsequential dream is a cathartic, emotionally cleansing experience that keeps the listener on the edge of their seat throughout—only to find them back in line when the last track stops, eager to sign up for another wild ride.
Lauren’s own ride began in her suburban hometown of East Meadow, Long Island, where she found herself drawn to the arts and political activism. “I organized a protest against fur at the mall when I was in fifth grade,” says with a laugh. There was music and culture in the house; her father played guitar and her mother, a teacher, played piano and exposed her to literature and theater. Inspired by the beat writers, Lauren took to poetry early on.
Following music lessons she went on to study acting, met groundbreaking director Polina Klimovitskaya, and spent three years with the professor’s avant-garde troupe, Terra Incognita Theater. Lauren credits Klimovitskaya’s “psycho-physical” method as a strong influence on her own approach to performing, and began to utilize it when she started participating in poetry readings.
At an artist conference in Florida, she met producer Marc Godwin, with whom she wrote and performed a piece especially for the event. Impressed, Godwin invited Lauren to join him and lead singer Janice Robinson (ex-Livin’ Joy) in the band P.A.O. as its poet and lyricist. It wasn’t long, however, before Lauren decided to assemble her own rock-poetry outfit. Together with guitarist Thaddeus Wellenc Jr., engineer and synthesizer/drum programmer Sal Chisari, multi-instrumentalist and musical director Gary Pickard, and others, she began playing New York clubs and developed the material for Inconsequential Dream.
“The musicians I work with are really great at sculpting the ‘feels’ that go with the words I write—they know how to how to make it melodramatic but also keep it fun. I want my music to really resonate with people,” says Lauren, a practicing Buddhist. “To be a coming together, a connecting of universal with personal truths.”
Striking a balance between intense drama, evocative imagery, profound social commentary, and, yes, fun is no simple task. But it’s one that Lauren O’Brien pulls off with graceful ease.