An Article by Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson
Southern Alabama born, Laurie Anne Armour, nicknamed LA by her friends, first came to my attention during a songwriters’ round at The Peoples Room of Mobile (previously known as The Listening Room). LA had already released her debut EP “Ebb and Flow” and was very familiar to the vibrant music scene around Mobile, Alabama. LA’s charming way of connecting with and putting her audience at ease is one her gifts. Her honest delivery makes everyone feel that they have been friends with her for a long time. That is something not every music artist can do, however, she does it quite naturally.
Armour found her love for performing and songwriting while in her teens. Her music has been perfectly described: “She sings about hope, love, passion, loss, sadness, and the strength and will to overcome, with all of it shaded by faith”. That rings even more true in what Laurie Anne Armour has accomplished on her full-length album, “Led by the Light”, which was officially released in March of 2020.
Like so many albums released in 2020 and during the peak of the Coronavirus “Covid 19” health crisis, it faced the disadvantage of not being promoted at live shows. In fact, I had planned to see her March performance at The Peoples Room, but sadly it encountered one of the year’s most commonly used words, “Canceled”. This has made it especially hard for up-and-coming music artists to promote their music following months of hard work getting an album ready to see the light of day.
Top Photo: Album cover of Laurie Anne Armour’s “Led by the Light”; above photo: Laurie Anne with The Red Clay Strays’ Drew Nix at The Greenhouse on Porter in Ocean Springs, MS (April 27, 2019)
This latest album showcases LA’s soothing vocal skills and beautiful songwriting well on its ten tracks. When I first heard “Led by the Light” in its entirety, I had to directly listen to it twice! Even though I have heard LA many times and have come to know her talents better in the last couple years, I was still somewhat surprised by the quality and overall sound of the new album. “Led by the Light” provides us with a delightful journey of style and mood with a catchiness that flows from track to track.
Joining LA on “Led by the Light” are an accomplished group of musicians, mostly from the Mobile, Alabama area, which includes Amanda Donald (mandolin & backing vocals), Caleb Murph (electric guitar), Chip Herrington (trumpet), Drew Nix (dobro & backing vocals), Eric Erdman (co-lead vocals on “So Far” & backing vocals), Garrett Howell (acoustic guitar & organ), Greg DeLuca (acoustic guitar, percussion & backing vocals), Gabriel Willis (ukulele & backing vocals), Justin Fobes (acoustic guitar), Lizz Hough (double bass), Nashville’s Nathan Evans Fox (violin), Owen Finley (electric bass) and Zach Rishel (electric guitar). All the songs are written by LA except “The Color Blue” (co-written with father, Smitty Armour) and “So Far” (co-written with Eric Erdman). The album was recorded, mixed, and produced at Bazooka Music Co and mastered by Phil Anderson.
Laurie Anne Armour in the “Elvis Suite” at the historic Gulf Hills Hotel during the Mississippi Songwriters Festival in 2018.
I was reminded of a distinct group of talented artists, when listening to “Led by the Light”, in particular, Bronwynne Brent, a contemporary folk artist that I wrote about a few years ago. So much of the album has to do with the spirit of honesty that I referred to earlier. That honesty comes through in her songs and when she sings – I believe her, sensing that she is being honest with herself….. and that is refreshing. In a time when there is so much uncertainty and confusion in the world, it’s welcoming to have new music such as “Led by the Light” and LA should be commended for it.
Recently, LA received the good news that she has been nominated by Mobile, Alabama’s popular “Nappie” Awards for Best Solo Musician among a very impressive list of nominees. This is her fifth straight year to receive a Nappie nomination. The awards will be announced later in 2020 at The Lagniappe (a Mobile, AL newspaper and website).
On Friday, June 26, The People’s Room of Mobile will present Laurie Anne Armour and her band, The Speaking Sparrows with special guest, Chip Herrington, for the rescheduled “Led By The Light” album release show. The Room’s Jim Pennington has been a huge promoter of local and regional talent, which is especially needed as the music scene reopens. Finally, LA’s latest album will be deservingly promoted at live shows! She has this upcoming release show and others being booked at this time.
The Southland Music Line congratulates Laurie Anne on the release of her 2020 album and her ongoing success. During a turbulent year of uncertainty and hardships, Laurie Anne Amour’s appropriately titled “Led by the Light” shines through.
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