No Fancy Effects—Just the Power of Emotions Well Expressed
Singer-songwriter Lauren Crosby began performing when she was just 14 years old. She was that girl with the pretty voice, lending her vocal talents to bands.
That girl with the pretty voice is all grown up, and at 26, Lauren has established herself as a singer/songwriter and guitar player with grit and deep insight. Lauren describes her style as “salty, alternative, and Americana, with strong lyrics.”
Lauren grew up in Georgetown, the daughter of a lobsterman, and she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a musician. “I’ve always loved to sing,” she said. “Neither of my parents were musicians, but I grew up in an environment where we listened to music all the time.” Lauren enjoys listening to many types of music, including classic rock, old country music, and ʼ90s rap.
When she was 16, she was invited to perform with Jonathan Edwards, and the list of artists that she has either played with or opened for include Drake White, Assembly of Dust, and Shawn Mullins. She also recorded TRI Studio in San Rafael, California, created by Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir.
Lauren is completely self-taught, as is clear when she describes the transition from being a singer to becoming a singer and guitar player. When she was in high school, she performed with a boyfriend—he played guitar and she sang. After they broke up, she decided that she needed to be able to play guitar herself.
So, she sat down with a guitar and learned some chords, then some more chords, and then some more chords and some licks. Then she started writing songs as well.
“It was kind of a rage learn, to be honest. You get enlightened, and you learn how to play guitar because ‘I don’t want anyone to help me, I’m going to do it all by myself,’” she said. “It really got down to ‘I want to play guitar at my own gigs,’ and I didn’t want to have to hire anyone else to play guitar for me.”
Lauren’s been playing her own gigs since she was 19 and had planned to quit her full-time job as an ESL teacher this year to pursue being a full-time musician. She had a full tour scheduled and had booked gigs across the country, but the pandemic put a wrench in her dream when all her shows were canceled.
Her dream of being a full-time musician hasn’t vanished, however. It’s just been put on hold. She was fortunate enough to book some small, outdoor shows in the summer. In addition to teaching at Lincoln Academy, Lauren has been teaching children’s music lessons in a studio in downtown Bath. She’s developed an eight-week workshop, through which students attend weekly lessons.
“In those eight weeks, a student learns basic guitar, basic vocals, and basic song-writing with the goal that everyone who completes the course writes their own song,” she said.
Lauren, who has two full-length albums under her belt, recently released a nine-song solo acoustic EP on vinyl called Sheepscot Valley Enchantress, in collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Sheepscot Valley Enchantress is a deeply personal collection, with songs that reflect on some of the experiences that Lauren went through after moving back to the coast of Maine. She had been teaching music and English in a rural village in Thailand on a Fulbright fellowship. At the age of 24, she was living alone in a tiny apartment in Damariscotta, trying to reestablish herself as a musician, and trying to navigate life as a single young professional woman.
“I wrote the album, living in that apartment by myself in the dead of winter, feeling very lonely and very lost because I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do,” she said.
Sheepscot Valley Enchantress was recorded in Acadia Recording Studio in Portland and North Blood Studios in Damariscotta. One side of the album deals with some heavier topics while the other is cynical, but more light-hearted, she said.
One of the most personal, weighty songs is “Fly High,” which is about one of Lauren’s students who died by suicide.
“That one I wrote quickly because it kind of all came out in such a flurry, when I found out the news,” she said.
On the other side of the album is “Lobster and Laundromats,” which Lauren describes as a nostalgic song about feeling lonely and wishing you had the love you had earlier in your life, but you don’t have anymore.
“The themes are dark, but I would love for people to understand that it’s okay for these things to come out,” she said. Creative outlets are healthy ways for people to express emotions so they don’t get repressed, she said.
Sheepscot Valley Enchantress doesn’t have any filters or fancy effects, said Lauren, and the guitar and her voice sound the same way as they do live. She’s hoping the collection will inspire others who thought pursuing something artistic might be too hard or complicated and show them they can pursue something creative.
“The idea of it is to be used as a tool for other people to realize you don’t need a fancy studio or a fancy producer to create art that expresses your emotions. I tried to do it in an authentic way, to give the listener an experience as if they were sitting right next to me,” she said.
The album Sheepscot Valley Enchantress can be ordered on her website, www.lauren-crosby.com, and can also be found at Bull Moose and other music stores. One dollar from every copy sold will go to NAMI, which provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness programs.