As odd as it may sound, there’s nothing odd about Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk; in fact, the young musician might be a prototype for how to do things right in the new music industry.
Talented, artistic to a fault, and ultimately pretty gutsy, when she hits town this week—for a third time in just one year—she will be showcasing new work refined over hours and hours and hours of performing in front of audiences from coast to coast.
Her second album, Over Land and Sea, is due out this May and she released three songs mid-week as a teaser.
“We went to Florida and had it professionally produced. So there’s a full band and then a lot of orchestral work,” she said. “It kind of takes the music where I’ve always hoped it would go.”
The songs released on her website—I Lost Myself, Lets Make our Escape and Weight of the World—showcase her beautifully melodic way of dancing over each note, the opening trills pulling listeners gracefully into the more full-bodied sound of her accompaniment.
While light and airy on I Lost Myself, though, there’s nevertheless a mournful undertone to Mann’s voice. Intentional or not, one can hear the influence of the deep south in this music and imagine her blending well among the ghosts of musicians past in New Orleans, floating her notes among the alligator waters and harmonica-toting street urchins.
Trained in classical piano, Mann broke from the Royal Conservatory tradition early and headed for jazz, a seemingly unique step for a teenage voice, though a path this generation of young musicians is blazing. From the recently departed Amy Winehouse to Adele, whose up for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards this February, a return to the technically robust underpinnings of the genre has made a revival in popular music and one can see Mann’s folksy blend taking her a long way, should she keep up this pace.
Managed by her husband Zoltan Szoges, a one-time band leader from Ontario that she met as he transited through Calgary on tour stops, Mann has told the Capital News the couple actually planned to work at summer camps when they married. The musical career was more a fantasy for her, which might otherwise have gone unfulfilled had she never met and married Szoges, who offered to put his business skills to the test to make it happen.
It would appear the Canadian music scene is all the better for it. The songs unveiled off Over Land and Sea showcase an artist with the potential to becoming a top female singer/songwriter on the level of Sarah Harmer or Sarah McLaughlin.
The instrumentation added—clarinet, organ, and the band’s own guitar-family experiments—offer a little old world charm to balance her young voice, giving the final product a polish which should open doors for this hard-working couple.
Starting this new tour in Lethbridge, they will be joined by her band, The Fairly Odd Folk, including former hardcore drummer Aaron Fraser, who played with the indie rock group You Are a Weapon, and in Mann’s first band in Calgary. Szoges longtime friend, Mike Pardy, also a former hardcore band man from Behold the City, plays guitar and keys. The group rounds out with Szoges himself and Hammer Clarck, of Newfoundland, on base; they met him at a kids’ camp.
Since beginning their musical odyssey, Mann and her partner have really only stopped for a month, just outside Acme, Alberta, to develop the next album. Otherwise they have been pounding out shows in coffee shops and small bars, personally handling their press coverage and the logistics of touring.
Their show at the Streaming Café on Saturday, Jan. 28th will run from 7- 9 p.m. and marks one of the smaller stops they’ll play this time as they make the leap to mid-sized venues. The show is free and they will be selling advanced copies of Over Land and Sea.