“I lead from being a healing artist, so that’s my focus all the time. It’s always about creating that healing environment,” Lauren Monroe tells me during a recent phone chat. In addition to being a healing artist – and an advocate for mental health awareness, PTSD therapies, Suicide Prevention, and Crises Healing — Monroe is also a touring vocalist, songwriter, and musician, who utilizes her music as a means to promote healing. Next week Monroe will embark on a short run of dates with her band — which includes husband and Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen (who is also on the phone call) – of City Winery venues in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, where she will play The Loft next Wednesday, July 19th.
Last year Lauren Monroe released Messages From Aphrodite, her third album and second collaboration with producer Jim Scott, renowned for his work with artists like Tom Petty, Natalie Merchant, and The Chicks. Glide Magazine characterized the LP as, “Soulful Americana… The unmistakable parallels between rock’s halcyon days and Monroe’s music are rooted in her neoclassic songcraft, replete with ecstatic, harmony-laden chorus hooks and imbued with the unfettered joy of being alive and in the moment.” However, during our chat, Monroe says that the most meaningful responses to her music are, “people’s emotional reaction and the way they’re connecting to the music,” while Allen adds, “From my point of view, I always have an emotional response to the songs, because I always know the intention behind is to heal.”
Lauren Monroe’s first collaboration with Jim Scott was 2021’s Under The Wolf Moon, after having met in 2018. And both Monroe and Allen admit to being longtime fans of the producer. Monroe says that she’s especially fond of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, in addition to Scott’s work with Tedeschi Trucks Band and Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Allen tells me, “One of the things a lot of people don’t realize is how much work Jim did on these records that nobody hears about, like especially that Tom Petty record. And we regard him as one of the greats.” Monroe and Scott have been working together closely for the past five years, but Monroe admits that Messages From Aphrodite certainly sees a progression of their work since UTWM: “This one evolved with more focus, because, for the last album, a lot of the songs were older and written over a longer period of time.” “It was really an agreement,” she says of how the two worked together on MFA.
Just last week Lauren Monroe released “Brave,” her latest single and second stand-alone single from the Messages From Aphrodite sessions that didn’t quite fit the album (This March she released “Love Is Alive,” an anthemic blues rock track.) “Brave” is a ballad that asks in its opening line, “Can you show me what is kind?” The song is a response to the recent abundance of school shootings across America. “That was my response to the gun violence at Uvalde,” Monroe tells me, going on to say, “I just picked up my guitar and started to process it.” She talks about the importance of taking time to consider tragedies of this sort, and what they represent for a society, but asserts, “In a dark moment, there’s a way to read inside and find hope.”
When I ask what can be expected of the show next Wednesday, Monroe says, “I’m still promoting Messages From Aphrodite, as well as the new single,” but goes on to tell me that the most important thing about her performances is, “To really get people to experience each other in a new way. To create a room full of compassion and empathy for each other.” Allen goes on to express the significance of the musicality of this show: “We use drums a lot. We use double drums, and that whole tribal aspect of the show is very powerful and gets to the roots of why people are responding.”
Many of Lauren Monroe’s performances are hosted by City Winery venues, in addition to other listening rooms (Monroe and Allen actually brought their show to The Lounge at World Café Live last March.), which she tells me is very much where she feels like they belong: “It’s not just about the music, it’s about the storytelling. It’s like a TED Talk meets a rock concert, with some folk intentions.” Allen goes on to say that he has some aspirations for the shows to go to larger rooms (“As the show evolves, we can see how we can start to push out and play bigger shows.”), but Monroe clarifies that a bigger version of these shows would certainly need to be in theatres, where audiences could still connect in a deep and meaningful manner.
Curious about new music, I ask Monroe if we can expect any more singles dropping in the near future, and she tells me, “Possibly,” but admits that there is certainly new material in the works: “I have a bunch of new songs, but I’m still deciding how I’m going to release them. But I know I’ll have an album next year.” She also tells me that that new music will be accompanied by a new performance, which she’s anxious to get to work on: “Next year I’ll be starting to create a new show, which I’m really excited about.”
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