Driving up the coast highway from LA, once you hit Santa Barbara you are struck by a noticeable change in landscape. It is the gateway to the Central coast, where the contours of the land begin to take on more dramatic inclines and feelings burn like wildfires. This was the childhood home of Lauren Barth, ranch living and horse riding amongst the golden and dusty open ranges that still expand through parts of California. It is at these gates of change that Barth explores on Stormwaiting, her second solo effort and first on the Spiritual Pajamas label, due April 14.
Behind the musical landscape of Stormwaiting, Lauren drew from a backstory she created as inspiration. A young woman and spiritual leader of a commune, who is blind yet finds her way by a heightened sense of awareness, caught between the physical world of "Rialto" and the spiritual of "Morian." Stormwaiting is slang for living in Rialto and the storm is the tempest within Morian. The cult's most important message is one of Awareness. Like her protagonist, Lauren steps through these contemplations of change coming, treading one step at a time between the physical and spiritual realms, in a bittersweet anticipation of something upon us. Each song is like a deep breath in, an exhale, a pondering of the past and a wonder about the future with an acute awareness of each passing moment.
On the title track, Barth explores the question of who she is and where she is in juxtaposition to another, and it is these questions she answers throughout: "Leave me alone, you are the tower, I am the storm." But follows with "I am the mountain, green grass all around, I will take you home." Parts of her past she willingly lets go and other parts she cannot. In "Leave Behind," she sings "little girl lazy coming up the road to see me, I was once a traveler too. All these old memories taken by the sea, still don’t know what path to choose. Wake me up from this dream I can’t leave behind." On "Durango," released as as the album's first single today, she is resigned to her own state of floating through the storm:
I'm drawing shadows on walls
My baby's still gone
And it’s much too late to go home
Guess I’ll drive to Durango
Spent so many hours awake with you
Now I’ll never sleep, now I’ll never sleep again
The more serious moments are contrasted by some fun in the "Family Chant" series, a palpable impromptu romp of friends harmonizing along with Sam Blasucci from Mapache reading spoken word from an old Dark Star magazine.
Lauren Barth is a true seasoned folk music player, evoking the California folk movement of the late 1960s like David Crosby (who also hailed from the Santa Barbara area), while also calling upon British influences such as Bert Jansch, Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, and Pentangle, and the later American progressive folk music of Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, and early Bonnie Raitt.
In the time since her last solo record in 2017, she picked up the bass with Farmer Dave and the Wizards of the West, and with her own music gained experience in the process of composing, recording, arranging, and ultimately the confidence to allow her creative instincts to flourish. She found the perfect partner with producer Lewis Pesacov, recording in his Echo Park home studio and has worked with artists such as Pearl Charles, Best Coast, Fidlar, and also works in the world of classical and world music. Tellingly, Stormwaiting has an expansive spirit, a document of a woman and creative spirit finding and embracing her voice beyond folk music and into her own spiritual universe.
4. Family Chant II
6. Leave Behind
7. Highway Sleeping
8. Lord Of The Lake
9. Family Chant I