Well. Laura Tsaggaris has accomplished the impossible. The singer/songwriter has turned "Oops, I Did It Again" into a compelling tune. Don't believe it? Listen here (at www.lauratsaggaris.com) and prepare to be moved. In fact, we will definitively say that Laura's version is the definitive one. But, really, comparisons with Mrs. Federline are way off the mark, because Laura is an actual artist, with a genuine talent for writing songs and singing them with conviction. - Washington City Paper, Nov. 4, 2005
The Pittsburgh native now calls Washington, DC home and is touring in support of her first full-length independent recording, "Proof." The record was a long journey in the making that ultimately landed her in Raleigh, North Carolina, paired with an energetic producer she'd met briefly three years earlier. Until then, she'd been unable to get the genuine studio treatment she wanted for her songs. "Proof" has finally satisfied her wishes. The production captures Tsaggaris's emotive vocals and frames her intensely personal songs within a lineup of seasoned musicians while at the same time preserving the intimate feel of her live performances. The result is all the proof one needs to see that Tsaggaris is a powerfully gifted emerging artist.
ontap magazine (April 2005)
Seldom can one play a compact disc recorded by a local artist and mistake it for a major label production. Proof is one such rarity. The execution by all the musicians is top-shelf, the songs range from solid to devastating, and the vocals of Ms. Tsaggaris are always sublime. "Hard" is the opening track of the album and perhaps the most vital of the bunch. The first and last lines of the song are idenical, yet sung to markedly different effect. Such prudent word choice is a hallmark of Tsaggaris, and like the mid-range jumpshot in professional basketball, something of a lost art. Because her voice is capable of delivering a simple three-word phrase delicately or intensely, often within the same measure, her style of writing is made all the more potent. Track ten, "Hurricane" is an anthem that begs for a wider audience. It's hook is gargantuan, and the most prominent bit of two-part harmony on the album pops up in the middle of the tune, sending it into the stratosphere.The temptation to compare Tsaggaris's vocals to female singers of the past might arise, but resist the impulse. Recognize the singular talents of Laura Tsaggaris on their own merits. - David Cotton
dc pulse magazine (May 2005)
Growing up in Pittsburgh Laura Tsaggaris' musical family provided an appropriate foundation that would eventually bring her to write her own songs. Proof evokes the suspicion that these melodies and stories have been waiting to be shared with a large audience for 10 years. With a carefully selected backing band (courtesy of Chapel Hill, NC) and pinpoint production, her stripped down songs soar to the heights they deserve to make this an astounding debut album. Influenced by everything from the emotive rock of Jeff Buckley to the rhythmic seduction of Portishead, Tsaggaris has a heart wrenching and poetic delivery that is impossible to ignore, which keeps the diverse sound of the record sewn together. With her contemporary and accessible sound you could make the obvious connections to the likes of Aimee Mann, Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco. But make no mistake this woman has a voice that proves she is an experience all her own. Solo artists take note, get it right the first time even if you need to drive five hours to do so. (MD)
collected sounds (posted on April 22, 2005)
Tsaggaris' strong suit is surely her aptitude for writing a really great melody with all that that entails. She also has a very lovely, comforting voice.
"High Tide" is very catchy. Great beat and melody. Really rocks out.
"Halloween" also has a very memorable chorus.
Lyrics like this always get me:
she fogs up windows
she draws hearts wherever she goes
sideways, always, for someone
a someone i can see i will never be
from "I Just Can't Share"
I really like this recording. In the rotation, every time a song *hits* me and I check to see who it is, it's her. The voice is warm and enveloping, the songs are superbly written and will haunt you long after you turn off your CD player. This will likely be in my top picks of the year.
Laura Tsaggaris is a singer/songwriter out of our nation's capital. She's a self-confessed shy performer but she has no qualms about pouring out her heart in "Proof". Originally from the steel town of Pittsburgh, which could explain her blue collar appeal, Laura conjures forth visions of Joan Osborne and like-minded stellar lady performers. Owning a firm and solid voice, she proves that anything boys can do, women can do ten times better. - J-Sin
Imagine you are on a boat that is drifting down a wide river. This ship is not small, and yet it makes its way along fairly quietly, hardly intruding on the late evening calm. You're up on deck, leaning against the railing, taking in the shifting character of the shore and the river's surface. Co-incidentally, today's your birthday. One might say you're "feeling your age," though you aren't wistfully recalling earlier times and don't feel at all tired out. You're realizing that everything you want of life is ahead of you, in the direction that you're traveling.
And as this freeing awareness registers, you hear a woman start to sing. The effect is cinematic. The song doesn't pull you out of the space you're in, but joins you there, deepening the mood. It's the perfect thing. (You notice a sliver of moon through the trees.)
When that song ends and another begins, the singer is the same but now backed by a solid band. The arrangement is stunning, an eclectic mix of flavors delivered as though nothing could be more natural. So, naturally, you're curious. You leave where you've been standing and walk in the direction of the sound, until you see a girl sitting near the bow of the boat, a lime-green boom-box on her lap. Spilling from its surprisingly high-fidelity speakers is this lovely, non-soprano, jazz-tinged music--"pop/folk" for lack of a better term. It shimmers without slickness, like the play of lights across dark water.
Not wishing to startle the girl, you cough, signaling your approach. She turns toward you. "Excuse me," you say as you come nearer, "who is that singing?" Without releasing you from her serious gaze, she pulls a CD case from her jacket pocket and hands it to you. "May I...?" you ask, gesturing toward the lit windows of the cabin. She nods, and you take the cover over where you can get a better view.
The front features a photo of a plain lightbulb burning in a chipped, enameled ceiling fixture. The troubled plaster around it is a creamy mocha color, and set into a corner where the shadow begins, in lowercase sans serif type, is the name Laura Tsaggaris and the word proof. On the back there's a partial silhouette and someone vaguely reflected in a shop window, presumably the modest Ms. Tsaggaris herself. Inside, more distressed walls or ceilings ("if these walls could talk" comes to mind), plus a clump of text too tiny to read just now.
Another track begins, and it occurs to you that the singer's voice transmits feeling with the same absence of shielding that the exposed bulb on the cover offers illumination. There's enough of a pop feel to her delivery that you could say she's not quite showing you the filament, but you wouldn't wish for her emotions to be bared any more nakedly than they are.
When you look up again, the album's owner is still watching you, deadpan. You walk over and hand her the cover, saying something simple like, "This is really good." Her face starts to take on an expression that sensitive kids often adopt for defense as they get older. But then it opens into a smile and she says, "Yeah," and then, after a second, she adds confidingly, "I love her." You nod, and when you thank her you hope she knows that you appreciate both the introduction and the atmosphere that's been provided. Then you walk back to your previous spot down the rail, where you are gently serenaded by several more terrific selections before you call it a night.
Two days later, the ship having docked at a good-sized city, you seek out an internet cafe to check your email. While online, you visit lauratsaggaris.com to find out a little about the artist and the album. Her name is pronounced suh-GAIR-iss, she lives in D.C., originally from Pittsburgh. Ian Schreier produced, and he engineered all but one song at his Osceola Studios in Raleigh, North Carolina. There was apparently a prolonged search for the right producer, and the skillfulness in evidence throughout makes you appreciate the singer/songwriter's tenacity and her luck. The band is made up of heavy hitters from the Raleigh/Chapel Hill area: John Custer (electric guitar), Matt Brandau (bass), Jim Crew (piano and B3), and Stephen Levitin (drums and percussion), with strings supplied by four members of the Raleigh Symphony. Some of the tracks that form the beautiful ballad "Permanent" were recorded by Mike Fisher at Bias Studios in Springfield, VA, with Kevin Neimond playing bass. Tsaggaris accompanies herself on guitar. Also available is an earlier solo EP, six-songs, guitar and vocals, recorded live in the studio. (You'll find the EP reveals her acoustic guitar chops, while Proof focuses more on her wonderful voice and shows the reach of her writing when given a full presentation by players such as these.) You purchase Proof at the site store, buy the EP while you're at it, and have them shipped to an address that you'll be visiting next week.
When you arrive back at the boat, the girl with the lime-green CD player is stepping onto the pier, carrying her suitcase. Had she remained on board, you would've definitely tried to bum another listen to Proof. Now you'll just have to be patient. You don't say anything to one another as you pass, but standing alone at the stern as your ship sets off (you're absentmindedly whistling the melody of one of those songs), the two of you notice each other and exchange small waves. - James Meyers