Sunday, February 5, 2006

Lauren Hart: 5 Lifetimes

Lauren Hart has a flaw: She is not a Rangers fan. Boo!! However, musically she is right on the money. The voice of the Philadelphia Flyers has recently released her third CD, "5 Lifetimes," and, with it, Hart has again let fly with the beautiful soul and gifted musicianship that makes her so special.

"5 Lifetimes" will have an air of familiarity to old fans of Lauren Hart. "What If Lonely" is reminiscent of her own "World Away" from her second CD, "Girl Keeps On." It is a reminder of the outsider and lonely call for love and warmth that Hart often speaks of. "Words Like Water," too, reminds me of "One Last Time" from "Painted Bride;"my favorite Hart song, in its message. However, in this case, perhaps the lesson has been learned and simply needs to be laid out to be understood.

For all the comforts of the sounds Hart's fans will recognize there is also much newness to the music on "5 Lifetimes." This is where the album finds its truest strength. "I Might Be" holds an air of sullenness, yet is also tender and hopeful. "Nothing But Happiness" puts on display Hart's pure power of voice and message.

"Watch That Girl" and "Queen Of The Scene" reveal Hart's own empowering, growing comfort in her own skin and hopefulness that she has begun to find her own space. While she is also self-evaluating, "It's when you think you can't move, that's when you need to be quick," she reminds herself, too, "No one is the boss of me." The listener is convinced that Hart has burst free of much of what had contained her in life and music, and she is ready to say, "World, here I am, hear me!"

Perhaps my favorite track is "Five." Midway through the CD, it shifts the emphasis of the songs to the hopeful and strengthened place Hart wants to let us know she is finding. "Five" is love told in a gentle voice, but with the sureness of patience that knows what it wants and will get it; "Five years or five days. Five lifetimes, I'd wait for you."

One interesting theme of the CD, that is partially revealed and in part subtle, comes about in different ways. Hart covers Paul McCartney's 1980 hit, "Coming Up" in a funkafied version that best captures the essence of her live shows. She adds soul to the song and has clearly made it her own. Whether intentional or not, there seems to be some Beatles referencing going on, too, as lines mention "Here comes the sun" and "Ticket to ride." Hmm.

All in all, anyone who listens to Lauren Hart, walks away moved and inspired, and "5 Lifetimes" is a worthy contributor to Hart's message. While she is a huge favorite in the Philly area, as the city seems to have embraced her as sister and daughter and friend, her's is a voice, spirit and sound for anyone who needs good music. "5 Lifetimes" is a welcome addition to my collection. It should be to yours.

Oh, and Lauren: LET'S GO RANGERS!!!

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