Balancing personal landscapes with historical reflections
Louise Mosrie: Press
Zoe Cat Music
****/out of 5
Award-winning Tennessee-based and bred writer scores a HOME run
Louise Mosrie was among the annual half-dozen winners of the 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Songwriting Contest. Released at the beginning of the year, HOME, which she co-produced, is this Nashville-based musician’s latest recording. A finalist in the (folk oriented) Song Contest on the Singer-Songwriter Stage at this year’s Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival, Louise scored one of the award winning top four places.
The familial themed album title song opens this collection of thirteen Mosrie originals and co-writes. The funky sounding backdrop to God Lives In Arkansas, a song inspired by an Ozark Mountain detour that Louise and her husband undertook on the way home from a wedding in Oklahoma, will doubtless remind long-in-the-tooth readers of Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 crossover hit Ode To Billie Joe. Mosrie’s southern gothic portrait is energetically supported by the raunchy harmonica and vocal chords of Stepchild’s Emil Justian. Scott Neubert (acoustic guitar, Dobro), Byron House (bass) and Butch Simmons (drums) furnish the rhythmic backbone to most of the selections, others pickers who contributed to the recording sessions include album co-producer Jon Young (electric bass), Matt Combs (fiddle) and Donna Ulisse (vocals), one of Louise’s co-writers.
One of three songs co-written with Mike Richardson, The Battle Of Blair Mountain recalls the week long, organised armed uprising that involved over 10,000 West Virginia miners. This 1921 strike led to the partial recognition of labour unions by mine owners, and gave rise to the term ‘redneck’ because of the red bandana worn by the miners. Set in current times the Backroads and Fly lyrics merge themes already explored in Home and God Lives In Arkansas—the climactic line in Backroads being: ‘Daddy lived in the country till the day he died, Now I’ve come to understand why.’ The bittersweet Maybe I’m Your Angel finds this Tennessean reveal her tender side, while a failed relationship forms the focus in the ensuing Ulisse co-write Don’t Come Looking For Me.
Blackberry Winter is a (Southern) term describing a short cold spell that coincides with the time blackberries are in bloom. Co-written with Mike Richardson their tuneful collaboration of the same name follows in the wake of similarly titled recent odes by David Mead (Blackberry Winters 2009) and Jud Caswell (Blackberry Time 2007). Considering Nashville’s recent trials and tribulations, an outward looking positivity pervades the I Love This World lyric that quite simply celebrates exactly what this music town is all about. The autobiographical Tennessee follows, the penultimate Sweet Relief is gospel tinged, and Louise wraps up HOME with the sensitive ballad You Have My Love.
Mosrie’s compositions are thoughtful, refined creations. Given repeated listening, they will penetrate your consciousness. Spend your time thus, you’ll also be hooked.
...this Nashville-based singer/songwriter blew us away with her in-store performance. Like listening to Patty Griffin and Susan Tedeschi at the same time. Highlight of the 30A Songwriter Festival.
Louise Mosrie comes full circle with new album 'Home'
By Steve Wildsmith
Pencil singer-songwriter Louise Mosrie into the ranks of those who, with apologies to Thomas Wolfe, prove that you can go home again.
You just have to get away for a while to truly appreciate it, Mosrie told The Daily Times this week. After growing up on a farm in Middle Tennessee, it took her several years to come back to the middle of the state, to her Southern roots and to a life she once longed so much to escape.
"As a kid, I couldn't wait to get the hell off the farm," she said. "I didn't like the country, and I didn't want to be a part of that world. But when I moved back, older and hopefully wiser, I found myself, when writing songs, drawing on imagery I'd grown up around. I was influenced by songwriters like Nanci Griffith and Lucinda Williams, people that I'd gotten into later on, and my songwriting started to flow naturally out of that."
Ever since, Mosrie -- a Knoxville expatriate who started her music career here in East Tennessee -- has slowly built recognition as a new, vibrant voice of Southern folk and Americana. Earlier this year, she was proclaimed winner of the prestigious New Folk Competition at the annual Kerrville Folk Festival, and this weekend she's returning to East Tennessee to celebrate the release of her new CD -- appropriately titled "Home."
"I called it 'Home' because I'd come back to Middle Tennessee, where I'd grown up, and I came back to my roots in a way that was surprising to me," she said. "I found my voice in a type of music I never thought I'd write -- country and alt-country and bluegrass. And I love it! It feels so natural and authentic, and it's all a culmination of me moving back here."
Mosrie grew up in McEwen, in middle Tennessee. Both of her parents are British, and through high school, she lived in that small town of about 2,000 people. Once she graduated, however, she came to the University of Tennessee, majoring in broadcasting and working in local media while pursuing her musical interests at the same time.
As a member of the cover band Basement Zoo, she learned to harmonize; with the group She Said, she learned to play guitar and write her own songs, drawing heavily on English pop before going solo. She slowly developed a reputation on the regional tour circuit, playing Nashville's famous Bluebird Cafe regularly as well as other venues up and down East Tennessee and into North Carolina before deciding to move to Nashville several years ago.
"I just really wanted to improve my songwriting, and I got it in my head that I needed to go somewhere where there were more resources for me to do that," she said.
She and her husband, Mark, put their house on the market, and when it sold in only 10 days, they took it as a sign and made the leap to Music City. At first, she avoided the country and roots music scenes there; however, associations with such like-minded artists as Blount County native Diana Jones (herself a Kerrville winner) and Donna Ulysses exposed her to the styles that had been a part of her for most of her life.
In 2007, a writing opportunity with Ray Kennedy -- an acclaimed producer and half of the "Twangtrust" team responsible for Williams' stunning "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" album -- opened her eyes even further.
"We spent six hours co-writing this song, and he just turned my head around about songwriting," she said. "I learned more in six hours than I did in 10 years before that. He taught me so much about imagery and impact, and that was a real turning point for me."
Those lessons resonate across the 13 tracks that make up "Home." From the cat-loving shopper on the title cut to the woman on the run from metaphorical ghosts in "Don't Come Lookin' for Me" to memories of her father cooking breakfast in "Tennessee" -- those little slices of life and keen observations of the tiny details so many take for granted are what elevate the album to a rare work of sweet-sounding art.
"One other element that's been big since I moved back here is that I've become more of a spiritual person, and I don't mean that in a religious sense by any means," she said. "I'm trying to be in the present moment more, and I think that kind of awakening I've had on a spiritual level helps me in just appreciating every little thing. I do notice the details more now, because I'm in a better place that way. Those kinds of details don't escape me, and they end up in the song."
Those details no doubt played a role in her Kerrville victory. She had submitted her work for years, and last spring she almost didn't -- but with the new album under way, she sent in rough tracks of "Home" and "God Lives in Arkansas." When he received notification that she'd been a finalist, it was overwhelming.
"I was like, coming undone!" she said. "Then I went down there, and you play with a bunch of other people and the other finalists for two days. I just went down and thought, 'I'm going to have a great time on stage, just sing my songs and that's it.' I tried to let go of everything else, and I was able to do that and have a great time."
The last night of the competition, when her name was called, it was all the validation she needed that her Americana path is a true one. If she could turn back the clock, she wouldn't discourage her teen angst, and she wouldn't urge her younger self to stay put. If anything, her travels and trials have made coming back home even more satisfying, she added.
"I don't know that I'd do anything different, because leaving the farm made me appreciate the farm," she said. "I absolutely think that the travel and the moving away from home exposes you to as many different experiences as possible, and that's the key.
"You've got to get perspective, and I think one of the most immediate ways of doing things is to relocate yourself. Go do it all and then come back, because you really will come full circle."
“Influenced by everyone from ‘70’s folk-rock icon Ricki Lee Jones to ‘80’s pop faves The Sundays, Louise Mosrie brings a refreshing dose of acoustic pop to the singer-songwriter realm. Listening to her latest album, Separated Like Stars, gives you the kind of emotional lift that an old Carole King or Maria Muldaur release would have 30 years ago.”
With a crystal like voice, Louise Mosrie presents to us her newest release, Separated like Stars. This is a collection of diverse tunes sprinkled with an acoustic pop sensibility. Yet the acoustic part is only an anchor for the songs, as she expands the music into lovely cinematic arrangements better than any major label could churn out. Mosrie's voice is a lot like Harriet Wheeler's from the British dream pop group The Sundays, but her music is far more grounded and gutsy. Like in “Has Been” or “Real Me,” Mosrie includes jazz and folk into her catchy sound. Or while listening to “One of the Lonely Ones” the country flare comes shining through. This recording only slows down nearly toward the end with the expressive solo, “Riverman.” In this song the strength of the entire CD is heard as her glowing voice becomes entangled with the acoustic guitar. The following tunes, though orchestrated into rock band format, are clearly guided by this intimate setting. Mosrie creates a more eclectic type of dreaminess and thus a wonderful recording.
For her sophomore effort, Louise Mosrie brings us Separated Like Stars, a collection of 13 tunes that pretty much sticks to the same stylistic terrain of her first outing. Ms. Mosrie is steeped in the tradition of ‘70’s femme singer/songwriters like Carole King, Maria Muldaur and Melissa Manchester, which is actually a breath of fresh air compared to the “revolutionary” Tank Grrrl rhetoric spewed out by Ani Difranco et al these days. The album is lushly recorded, sounding like a big budget production. Mosrie is supported by longtime scenesters Terry Hill and Travis Wyrick, who both toned down their guitar histrionics to match the laid-back groove of the album. As with her last CD, her high standards are applied to every facet of this recording, down to the cover art--which is probably the best of any locally produced I’ve seen
Louise Mosrie is best known as half of the folk/pop duo SheSaid. “Crave”, Mosrie’s solo debut is a striking album that contains folk and rock. The centerpiece is made up of Mosrie’s vocals and likable songs. However, this is a first-rate enterprise on all fronts - from the knockout package design to the musicians and production. Case in point, the lovely song “Hidden”, which features steel guitar and cello complementing Mosrie’s own fingerstyle guitar work and vocals. And don’t turn the CD off too soon, one of the best tracks is a pretty acoustic guitar and vocal number hidden at the end of the disc. Mosrie is a singer-songwriter to keep an eye on.
While it’s tempting to say that local singer/songwriter Louise Mosrie has suddenly appeared on the scene from outta nowhere, such is not the case. While her brand new debut CD Crave is surprisingly polished and fully formed, Mosrie has been kicking around Knoxville music venues for the past seven years. From a post-college cover band to her own experimental outfit The Crumbtinies to acoustic duo SheSaid, Mosrie has been honing her skills as a guitar player and songwriter. And now Crave documents her progress as a unique artist of lush acoustic pop with dashes of coffee house folk, country, and rock. But even more impressive is her voice as a songwriter, with a lyrical sense that is intensely personal yet not cloyingly so (unlike, oh, a few MTV favorites), carefully balancing heart and soul. This concert is a celebration of Crave’s release, and one look at the album’s ravishing design will tell you how serious Mosrie is about her music- and one listen will show you why.
Singer/songwriter Louise Mosrie’s debut solo album Crave looks too extravagantly polished and professional to be dismissed as simply another lo-fi home demo. the package gleams with major-label-push all the way, yet it’s Mosrie’s own project. An initial listen reveals just how serious the Knoxville-based performer is about her career. The no-expenses spared presentation showcases her delicate performance in the best possible light, with sharp and laborious production by (not surprisingly) the singer herself. A diverse gathering of Mosrie’s influences all mesh nicely on the title track. Sundays-like acoustic shading colors a landscape of a-typical inward introspection. but here the singer never stoops to conventional tricks, rather letting her own voice and expressed gut feelings shine through, like sunshine after a summer rain. Tough without compromise or pretense, yet feminine enough in delivery to allow real emotions to guide the mood; the no tears “Jaded” and the country-tinged “Breakdown” are prime examples; and a subdued blues guitar adds a dangerous edge to “Diva”, an ode to a femme fatale. Perhaps soon Mosrie will get her big break and release that major label debut, but then why should she bother, when she already has such a fine product as Crave under her belt? This is her shining moment, and anything less would be anti-climactic.
Here's some darn catchy music for you. Louise's music is sort of a poppy rock that has some metal guitar riffs thrown in (like on 'Never Gonna Be The One'), and almost a twinge of country in spots. My personal pick on the album is 'Diva', but actually, all the songs are good. I would be upset if there was some filler thrown in but there isn't. Anywhere. Instead there are twelve songs all deserving praise. And though it has nothing to do with anything, the album has absolutely awesome packaging, with a tri-fold sleeve and mega-thick lyric booklet. Anyway, back to the real subject, Louise's music, all I can say is that she definitely has music that will stand up for a long time to come, and hopefully, the world will come to listen.
**** (out of 5)
All About Eve fans should find a striking similarity in the self-released Crave by Louise Mosrie. Her 11 track debut offers a multitude of AAA radio and film score possibilities. In both the title track and “The Road”. Personal favs include the violin and twang guitar mix of “Jaded”, the scrapbook memoirs of “My England” & “The Best Kind”, with unpredictable chord progressions reminding me of the great “Dog & Butterfly” by Seattle’s Heart (aka Lovemongers).
Seeing and hearing Louise Mosrie perform her eclectic mix of folk and English pop is like having a good friend sit down in your living room to play guitar and sing: The beer is cold, the room is lit by candles and there's something ethereal about her sweet voice.