Storyteller, singer, and songwriter Lauren Calve releases her Wildfire EP today, June 23 – stream / listen HERE. Calve’s musical compositions blend blues and Americana, guitar and lap steel, but their strength lies in how they go beyond tradition into innovative melodies, structures and arrangements that define their originality. Her lyrics, intonation, and songwriting resonate with the listener leaving them to ponder what they’ve just heard and wanting more.
On Wildfire, Calve delves into interesting territory as she uses memorable imagery and meter to write about complex issues. Tracks like “On And On” with its Wilson Pickett style, was inspired by the documentary Muscle Shoals and is an anthem for anyone who has witnessed a loved one stuck in a vicious cycle. “Shock Time,” gets its name from one of Woody Guthrie’s journal entries referencing the electroshock therapy he almost underwent. The song formed after Calve read Naomi Klein’s book Shock Doctrine which highlights the social and environmental “shock” strategies of those in power to keep the rest of us scared and ignorant. In the song, Calve brings together Klein and Guthrie’s “shocks” in a fearful contemplation of misdeeds and the retribution for it. “She Loves Waterfalls,” the only ballad on the EP, is a beautiful song written after seeing a photo of her mother standing in front of a waterfall, happy, after finding love again. Calve’s lead track and current single, “Better Angels” has taken on many new connotations and iterations since she wrote it. What was conceived from an Abraham Lincoln speech on the eve of the Civil War, took on new meaning during the rise of a global pandemic, and has now forged into a call for the better angels in all of us to come together to battle the systematic racism that has plagued our country since Lincoln was in office.
“Better Angels” was written after listening to a radio interview with Jon Meacham who cited Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address as inspiration for his book, The Soul of America: The Battle For Our Better Angels. “Meacham applied Lincoln’s message of ‘the better angels of our nature’ to the courage of the American people who dealt with the unprecedented crises of their era,” says Calve. “As I listened to this, immigrants were being contained, families were being separated, children were held in cages. Lincoln's words still held a powerful resonance, and they gave me a deep hope that I hadn’t felt in years. ‘Better Angels’ was born from that surge of hope and optimism. It was a reminder that we would always rise to the occasion, no matter what.”
Once Covid-19 started spreading Calve couldn’t stop thinking about Lincoln’s message and it reminded her of the everyday people on the front lines in the battle against the pandemic. “For me, they symbolize the angels that Lincoln talked about,” says Calve. “The qualities of our better nature - courage, leadership, resolve, resilience, empathy, compassion, and altruism are all exemplified in the nurses, doctors, janitors, grocery store clerks, mail carriers, delivery truck drivers, pharmacists, and other essential workers. They are the ‘better angels’ in the lyrics while embodying the true spirit of the song and of Lincoln's famous words: ‘The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’" Seeing the havoc the pandemic brought to her family and friends, and throughout the world, she wanted to make a lyric video to express what she was feeling and express the gratitude she had for the people who are “out there every day, in my neighborhood, in my town, and throughout the world selflessly serving our communities,” says Calve. “I wanted to say thank you to them, the better angels in my life that were helping me get through this rough time and still are today.” The video features Calve and her family as well as photos of her Mailman, police chief, food clerks, pharmacist, and even her cat Loretta Lynn among others in her MD town that borders DC.
“Better Angels,” is at Americana and AAA radio now with early airplay in Charlottesville (VA), Cleveland (OH), Columbus (OH), Akron (OH), Knoxville (TN), Richmond (VA), Roanoke (VA), New Concord (OH), Paonia (CO), and Carmel (CA). She recently performed the song and was interviewed by Z100’s Garrett Vogel of The Elvis Duran Show on his Instagram LIVE . The song has also been featured on Spotify playlists such as CMT’s Next Women Of Country and The Round Up as well as DittyTV’s Ditty Dozen. “Wildfire” is being featured on Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine’s Trail Mix VI for this month.