Lisa Lauren - My Own Twist 



Illinois-based singer/songwriter and pianist Lisa Lauren is no stranger to the smooth jazz circuit and has appeared regularly with her trio on Chicago’s WNUA Sunday Jazz Brunch since its inception. 

Her first CD, 1999’s “What Comes Around” like the new CD featured a mixture of original and classic music, allowing her to showcase her talent both for writing clever lyrics and catchy hooks and for tasteful interpretations of well-known songs. 

Her courage in putting out her first CD on an independent label was rewarded by international radio interest and this release should receive the same interest.  It features the talents of David Sanborn, Fareed Haque, Steve Rodby and Steve Cole. 

Looking at the CD cover and listening to Carole King’s Sweet Seasons hints at easy-going country rock and the harmonica really reinforces this impression.  The sweetness of the beautifully recorded vocal means that you don’t miss a word.  A teaser for things to come... 

Subtle horns open A Shame and this bluesy, tight little song features David Sanborn.  You already know by the second song that you’re listening to class here.  Sanborn’s alto is unmistakeable here and the solo is the icing on an already tasty cake. 

The jazz ballad Life Goes On features a warmer vocal performance and the ornate guitar of Fareed Haque whose work on this track is described as a “homage to Pat Metheny”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself!  The lush piano of Ms Lauren overlays the lovely jazz trio setting.  Listen for Jeff Thomas on percussion – he’s working hard here. 

My Own Twist has an almost African feel but the originality of the musical setting takes second place to the clever lyric.  This, like eight of the ten songs here, is an original composition.  On this song, like all of them, Ms Lauren sings like she means it.  The beautiful production makes her voice into something you could almost touch. 

It Sucks To Be You is a gentle slap in the face for people who spend their time feeling sorry for themselves.  The mournful soprano sax is an echo of the weeping and wailing subtly parodied here.  Clever, clever music. 

A few slide guitar licks, and that country rock sound is back for That’s All She Wrote.  It’s tempting to try to pigeonhole this album – but don’t do it.  Try to describe the music of Ricki Lee Jones, the music of Joni Mitchell – Lisa Lauren is that good. 

A Little Romance reminds you why.  That jazz trio feel is perfect for this smoky, intimate ballad.  Steve Cole’s soprano sax solo brought a lump to my throat.  “Songs about real life” is my best way to describe this type of music.  Moving in its simplicity – ah, gorgeous! 

We all know George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun and by now we know Lisa Lauren too – her classy treatment of the song is all you’d expect.  Hats off to Jim Gailloreto whose sweet soprano sax is a joy. 

The wicked sense of humour hinted at earlier in the album moves up a gear with A Guy Thing.  There’s a rockier sound but it works so well.  Pop radio should be picking up on this right now.  UK jocks, are you listening? 

The most intimate of ballads closes this set.  Yours And Mine weaves acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, piano and strings around Ms Lauren’s fresh-as-a-daisy, flawless vocal performance.  The sentiments expressed aren’t new, but they are real. 

Take a songwriter and singer with a dazzling talent.  Add a top-flight group of players who know what to leave out so it’s the song that matters.  If your engineer knows how you feel about your songs, a CD like this is what results.  You’ll still be hearing it ten years from now... 


Planet Jazz Records  -  Producers Lisa Lauren, Fareed Haque, Scott Steinman  


Reviewed by Chris Mann