ABOUT "THE HONEY ON THE MOUNTAIN"
Rob Laurens' CD, "The Honey on the Mountain," was nominated for "Best Debut Folk/Acoustic Album" by the 1999 Boston Music Awards. Produced by acclaimed Boston songwriter Ellis Paul, the album features 10 songs written and performed by Laurens, with accompaniment by several well-known national folk artists, including Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky, among others.
"The Honey on the Mountain" is Laurens' first full-length album, and features songs written in Laurens' signature style: telling compelling stories through the use of subtle and resonant detail, plot, and metaphor.
Folk songwriters Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky (who recently have toured with Dar Williams as "Cry, Cry, Cry") perform on several songs, and a hidden track features Laurens and Paul singing a duet version of Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd."
"Rob is a great contemporary songwriter who demonstrates a clear knowledge, love, and respect for the tradition of the folk ballad," says producer Ellis Paul. "Both timeless and contemporary, his songs often transport us back to ballads past while holding our attention within a framework of contemporary sound."
"Cotton-Eyed Joe," the first song on the album, tells the story of a rural town gathering together in a vain attempt to put out the fire that is consuming their church. The instrumentation grows from Laurens' voice and National steel guitar to include acoustic bass, drums, old-timey fiddle, B-3 organ, electric guitar, and a full choir of 20 voices. Like all of the songs on the album, the basic tracks were recorded live in the studio, a deliberate choice to avoid the standard - and too often soulless - technique of over-dubbing to a click-track.
Other songs on the album include the spacious "Wondering How You Are," which has received much air play on the nation's folk music stations, and "The Fields of Kingdom Come," the story of a Confederate soldier struggling with death, honor and war.
On the album, Laurens is accompanied well-known musicians from both the national and Boston folk scene, including Laura Risk (Cordelia's Dad), fiddle; Tom West (Susan Tedeschi Band), Hammond B-3 organ; Don Conoscenti (Ellis Paul Trio), electric and lap steel guitars; Jackson Cannon, acoustic bass; Phil Antoniadas (Barbara Kessler Trio), drums.
"The Honey On The Mountain" was engineered and mixed by Tom Eaton, at Thomas Eaton Recording in Newburyport, Mass.
FROM THE MEDIA
"Rob Laurens culls his naturalistic ballads from the fertile soil of American folk tradition, but his intimate, incisive lyrics embody the best instincts of the contemporary songwriter movement."
Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
"Rob Laurens is a rare bird. In a time when contemporary folk means fledgling pop writers with acoustic guitars, Laurens has developed a deep knowledge of an ancient Appalachian path. He has a sweet, well-enunciated vocal style void of pretension, and a writing style that usually avoids being overly precious. He's the first major talent to come from the coffeehouse circuit in a while." ¬¬
Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald
"With a unique sense of phrasing and a strong, lyrical style, Rob Laurens writes songs that tell real stories - in the big sense of the word. He is an insightful and provocative songwriter."
Dick Pleasants, host, "The Folk Heritage" WGBH 89.7 FM Boston
"Rob Laurens has the rare ability to write songs that seem like they've always been there. When he steps on stage, you're drawn into the atmosphere that he creates from the first chord. Witty, engaging, thoughtful, and whimsical ¬¬ it's all there, held together by taste, discernment, and an intriguing, original guitar style."
Dave Palmater, host, Folk Radio WUMB 91.9 FM
ABOUT ROB LAURENS
Rob Laurens is a songwriter's songwriter. With a keen eye for subtle, understated detail, Rob creates songs whose lyrics resonate like the words of a writer; his songs tell stories, often expressing the kind of ideas and complexity of emotions more typically tackled in the work of a novelist. However, his writing is not over-burdened or pretentious. Rather, Rob creates songs that are subtle and insightful, with meanings that deepen with repeated listening.
Steeped in the knowledge of many kinds of American traditional music - especially Appalachian ballads - Rob seeks to emulate the best folk songs, which possess these traits. Rob has lived and traveled throughout the United States, and has had the opportunity to spend time learning folk music from Appalachian fiddle and banjo players, blues guitarists, and from recordings in the Library of Congress. Along with his appreciation of the poetry and myth of American folk song, these experiences have helped him develop what has been described by Dave Palmater of WUMB 91.9 FM Boston as, "the rare ability to write songs that seem like they've always been there."
To accompany his performances of these songs, Rob uses a number of instruments, including piano, harmonica, and a cache of vintage guitars. He sings in a tenor voice with a natural, quick vibrato that is at times reminiscent of old-time Appalachian singing.
Rob has won the New Folk Award for Songwriting at both the Kerrville Folk Festival (TX) and its sister festival, The Columbia River Festival (WA). He has returned to play the main stage at these and many other festivals, including the Strawberry, High Sierra, and Napa Valley Festivals in California. He tours both east and west coasts, playing such clubs as The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California, and Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
His next release is expected in 2005.