Joni Laurence,
With No Apology
(Elsinore, 2006)

Singer/songwriter/acoustic guitar player Joni Laurence released her fourth full-length CD, With No Apology, in 2006. The album was recorded live in Urbana, Illinois, in a church. Joni penned all 13 tracks, and her brand of folk is occasionally touched by the blues or a little country.

"Sick With Motion" is a catchy tune. Joni uses the idea of being a passenger on a road trip as a metaphor to a relationship. The other individual is in control and "speeding out of reach." Joni would rather do things differently, but she has no choice since she isn't in the driver's seat. The music is pleasant, and this track sounds made for radio.

Joni shows she has a sense of humor with her song "Wal-Mart Blues," a track that belongs in a smoky beer joint. The riff is signature blues, the lyrics are middleclass America. "I'm going broke saving money at the big discount store down the street ... I'm buying lots and lots of cheap and useless things that I don't need."

Joni is supported by four fellow musicians on this CD. Ryan Groff provides harmony vocals and plays acoustic guitar. Jeff Magby handles drums and percussion. Matt Stewart can also be found on the acoustic guitar as well as the slide guitar. Josh Walden plays bass guitar.

One of the best songs on the CD is "Lake Water," on which Joni and Ryan switch lead and backup roles. While I enjoy their harmonizing, Ryan has a slightly better voice than Joni as a solo vocalist. I also like the lyrics Joni wrote for this track more than some of the others. The singer is singing to a very negative person who thinks she is the only person in the world to suffer and never sees anything in a positive light. The melody sets a melancholic mood. The title of the track comes from the chorus, which starts out "Lake water is gonna weigh you down...."

My initial opinion of Joni and her live recording With No Apology was that it was just all right. Not bad, but not necessarily a must-have CD. But this one has kept growing on me, and I will keep listening even though it's time to move on to the next review. In short, if you give Joni a chance, I think this folk artist just might hook you, too.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Wil Owen

21 July 2007

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