Laura Burhenn
Image: she catches fire. it's just that simple.
- music monthly

is it possible for sound to make a heart bend? musically, laura burhenn is the cure for what ails you. and listening to her sing is much like tilting your head to the sun. lyrically, laura speaks to the loneliest part of you and lifts you up. or she draws you down into the darkest corner and shows you light. "after all," she says, "the light might shine you, but it's the shadow that defines you."

laura came to music early, aiming her mr. microphone into the a.m. radio and turning out songs on her mother's upright piano. and somewhere in the space between her pj harvey, beatles, and nina simone records, laura found her voice. then she sat at her piano and started to sing. "ever since i was very small," laura says, "i've fancied myself as a bit of a conduit. i sit at the piano, open my hands, and let the songs pour in."

a decade or so of classical piano and stints singing and playing moog and fender rhodes keyboards in rock bands and electronica projects all helped shape laura's eclectic tastes. "now," she says, "i've got my hands in so many places musically. i pull sounds, colors from all kinds of experiences i have and people i come to know, and paint them into my songs." and while she might speak of songwriting like collage work, it's hardly cut-and-paste. her songs are at once fresh, layers thick, and wholly her own.

live with her band, laura's voice lilts and soars and commands rooms to silence. layering loops of wurlitzer with waves of lush guitar, laura invites you into her world and lets the songs tumble forth. at the heart of it, though, laura's songs remain simple and strong, her voice, honest and raw.

in august of 1999, laura released her first album, not ashamed to say, on laboratory records - the label independently owned and operated by laura since 1999. featuring bare piano and raw vocals, her debut album is a collection of thirteen songs written from 1994 to 1998. other early releases, all on laboratory records, include memory (2003, split 7" with dagon james), and icesongs (2001, ep).

on her newest recording, wanderlust (april 2004), laura forges into new territory, adding electric guitars, drums, cellos, wurlitzer organs and a lot of white noise to her soundscape. old songs, including a cover of leonard cohen's chelsea hotel no. 2 as well as some of her earlier original works, are reworked and given new life. and new songs, like the sky-cracking electrical sun, are pushed beyond the boundaries of traditional singer- songwriter arrangements and given wings.

an admitted fear of stagnancy keeps laura pushing forward. she's currently at work on an ep that will feature a new track in the experimental vein of her music and remixes of selected tracks from her latest album. "i am always hunting for new sounds, new words, new ways of seeing and saying things," laura says. "that's my wanderlust."