Lauren White’s “Life in the Modern World” is a jazzy look at real-life

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Vocalist Lauren White’s new album, “Life in the Modern World” is commentary on exactly that. With songs that question how to behave around certain types of people, about disconnecting, the quick passage of time and more, White brings to life the various thoughts that modern living can evoke.

“Life in the Modern World” is White’s third album. She has crafted a career based on her ability to interpret songs by bringing the words into focus with crisp, unmistakable diction. Her smoky delivery marks White as a jazz singer of a certain style, but her manner of singing works with the thoughtful songs she works with.

About Lauren White

The arguably blunt response that most people get when they inform others of their plans to be an artist of some kind is, “Don’t quit your day job.” White shouldn’t want to. In addition to her job as a jazz singer, she is a producer on the immensely popular HBO show, “Homeland.”

Despite her day job, White finds time to perform at clubs in both Los Angeles and New York City. She is a regular at Catalina Bar & grill, Cinegrill and the Bel Age Hotel in Los Angeles.

Because White has performed on both coasts, she has had opportunity to work with musicians in both areas. The performers White has chosen for “Life in the Modern World” are some of the best in the country. Including among this group of top musicians are pianist Quinn Johnson and producer, vocalist and lyricist Mark Winkler.

Johnson worked with Steve Tyrell for almost two decades. He has also worked with some of the most recognizable names in pop music, including Rod Stewart and Diana Ross.

Winkler produced White’s last album, “Out of the Past, Jazz & Noir.” He has 16 credits as a leader, and more than 250 songs that have been recorded by performers such as Liza Minnelli and Dianne Reeves, among others.

“Life in the Modern World” by Lauren White

Each song feels like an essay – – thoughtful and nuanced. White encourages deep reflection with the way she re-creates scenes from real-life. The universal agreement with the sentiments White puts forth immediately makes the songs likable. The way that White performs them turns the songs into personal art made public.

Probably one of the most charming song on the recording is “Till I Get It Right.” With lyrics by Winkler, the song was composed by pianist Stuart Elster. In a manner that is both sophisticated and questioning, White runs through scenarios and her possible choices for behavior. In a way, the song is detailing that it is almost impossible to “get it right.” The idea will not be lost on listeners.

This song makes great use of White’s voice and approach to performance. The instrumentation is perfectly balanced so that the singer is neither drowned out nor straining to be heard. The track opens with a classic roll of drums, but it is upright bass, piano, and later horns that form the basic soundscape. White’s playful singing works well with Winkler’s, and the two sound as if they are having a conversation. They bring up the self-doubt that people often have about their comportment and appearance, especially when they have the potential to be judged by others.

White’s vocals are low and controlled. She sounds as if she has lived the words to the song and that makes the track all the more interesting to hear.┬áThe songs on “Life in the Modern World” are relevant to contemporary listeners. But White’s voice will remind them that her work is in fact, art.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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