Blues Bytes


May 2017

Lauren Mitchell
Lauren Mitchell Records

Lauren Mitchell

I probably met Lauren Mitchell approximately five years ago on the stage at Ace’s in Bradenton, Florida. She’d been selected to represent one of the Florida Blues societies’ at the International Blues Challenge and I gladly purchased a disc from her to help fund her efforts. A couple of years later she was a house guest at one of the after-festival functions held at our rental on Anna Maria island, and I got a chance to know her a little better. So, when I first heard of her collaboration with Tony Braunagel, I was more than a bit curious. Tony’s done a fantastic job of producing the ladies, from Karen Lovely to Danielle Nicole, and I was curious to see what magic he’d be able to work with Lauren. The result is her new disc, Desire, and it’s clearly a break out record for this Floridian. I’m expecting big things from Lauren this year and Desire, clearly indicates she’s on her way.

She opens with an Etta James classic, “(I Don’t Need Somebody to Tell Me) How to Treat My Man,” and Lauren’s clearly in control here. “I don’t need nobody…to tell me how to treat my man…you ain’t got one of your own…so how can you understand…tend to your business…leave mine alone…it’s my own fault…if something goes wrong…I don’t need nobody to tell me how to treat my man.” Lauren’s clearly got this and the welfare of her man is definitely in good hands. Up next is “Soul Music,” an original tune from Lauren and Sheri Nadelman, with Jim Pugh’s keyboard work front and center as Lauren tells us about the man and the music she loves. “From across the room…I felt a chill go through my very core…was the way you move…so smooth and cool…made me want you even more…I can hear the soul music…like my daddy used to play…soul music, boy, when we danced the night away.” Lauren’s lost in her love and the music that brings her to this moment in time and you can’t help but be happy for her.

The title track is next and I love the haunting, hill country feel of this tune. Lauren’s focus on what’s important is imparted in the lyrics of this tune, “Cause…if you can’t stand the heat...keep on walking through the fire…you don’t have to move the mountain…just climb a little higher…you know…it’s going to taste so sweet…so don’t listen to the lies…just rise up from those ashes…and believe in your desire.”

Attitude is everything in life, and Lauren’s tackling that notion head on with everything she’s gone through personally &and professionally to bring this record to fruition. “Desire” is a testament to the perseverance it takes to be successful in this world, and ultimately its Lauren’s faith and desire that brings her to this point.

“Jump Into My Fire” is another tune culled from the catalog of Etta James, and Lauren does her idol justice on this tune as well. “I said…jump into my fire…run through into the flames…I’ve got some red hot loving…cooking in my oven…if you can stand the heat in this place.” The rewards are great if he can stand the heat he has to endure to reap the rewards. Lauren makes sure that he knows the rewards will be worth it. “You see…I’m woman enough…to handle your stuff…every hour of every day.” Lauren follows up Etta’s passion with the soulfulness of Aretha as she segues into “Good to Me as I Am to You.” “If there’s water in the pitcher…and we both need a drink…to stay alive my darling…I’d need less water than you think…my love, these things I say are true…and all I’m really asking…is be as good to me…as I am to You.” Lauren’s a woman of great passion and all she’s asking is to be loved and treated as passionately as she will love you in return. I love this cover of Etta’s tune and Lauren’s vocal accurately conveys the depth of love she has to give in return.

This feeling of love and optimism continues with “Feels So Good,” and Lauren is still madly in love. “After all these years…so many things have changed…but my love for you…still burns like a flame…through good times and bad times…nothing could tear us apart…and it feels so good.” Lauren was one of the fortunate few to find her lover and best friend and you can’t fault her for basking in the feelings of contentment a love that good can bring. Bettye Lavette is another one of Lauren’s idols, and she next tackles one of Bettye’s classics, “Stand Up Like a Man.” “Always remember…I’m by your side… and I will help you..stand up like a man…hold your head up high…stand up like a man…don’t let your courage die…don’t be afraid to reach for a star…you’ll be as great…as I think you are.” Lauren’s always willing to stand by her man’s side and support whatever dreams he chooses to reach for in his life. A better woman can’t be found and he’d be wise to appreciate all of the support that Lauren is giving him.

“Today” has a similarly soulful vibe and Lauren continues to explore the depths of the love she is feeling. “Thought I’d seen it all…now it all has changed…and nothing helps the pain…today…today.” A love that she once has is coming to an end and Lauren’s left to reflect on the dreams that were and what her hopes are for the future still to come. Through it all, Lauren is definitely a fighter and she lets it all loose on the Ashford & Simpson tune, “I Ain’t Been (Licked Yet)” “Right out of nowhere…my whole world fell apart…to this day…no one knows what I felt in my heart…bu.t I rise…yes, it can be done…I ain’t been…licked yet.” “Anti-Love Song,” a tune made famous by Bettye Davis, is Lauren’s answer to all of the havoc love can wreck on a woman’s heart. “Just as hard as I’d fall for you, boy…you’d fall for me harder…that’s why I don’t want to love you.” The temptation is great but Lauren knows she’s much better off to just turn and walk away from this man who could do serious damage to her body and soul.

I like the the gospel vibe and simplicity of the piano intro to “Bridge of My Dreams,” a tune written by Lauren’s friend, T.C. Carr. “I can feel the pull…of the stars up above…I know I’m going to where I’m supposed to…the bridge of my dreams will lead me through.” Ultimately, salvation awaits and Lauren’s a good Christian woman who will gladly go to heaven to meet her maker. “Lead Me On,” anther original from Lauren, Sheri and Tony, finds Lauren in complete understanding of all of the emotions she’s experiencing and the man that’s bringing them to the forefront. “I’ll let you buy me dinner…we can stay for dessert…hold my hand across the table…if you want…I’ll even flirt…wrap your arms around me…to keep me from the cold…tell me all your stories…I’ll laugh at all your jokes.” The illusion of love was enough for Lauren to play along with this charade but she’s had enough…don’t lead me on, boy…for you let me believe, baby…and it felt so wonderful…to just pretend…that we could be…don’t lead me on.”

Lauren closes with “Brown Liquor,” and it’s probably more autobiographical than any of us care to admit on behalf of that “brown liquor.” “Woke up in Vegas…with a man in my bed…couldn’t find my handbag…need an aspirin for my head…look around the room…tried to find the door…realized I was upside down…and passed out on the floor…that damn brown liquor.”

Desire is definitely a break out album for Lauren Mitchell. Wonderfully crafted originals, coupled with some very astute song choices from her heroes, makes for a compelling disc. Producer Tony Braunagel coaxed a show stopping performance out of Lauren for this record. I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about Lauren as the festival season progresses, and I know for a fact she’ll be blowing the roof off of some of South Florida’s best blues venues. You can find out more about this Floridian blues woman on her website at, and grab a copy of Desire while you’re there. Throw it in your CD player, grab a cold drink and turn it up loud. You can thank me later.

--- Kyle Deibler



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