Music News

Laura Satterfield

I'm always glad to make the acquaintance of a woman singer not afraid to moan. And by moan, I don't mean the Britney Spears variety of moan, which is essentially a crass imitation of sexuality produced for a record label. I mean the noise produced spontaneously by a voice in the midst of musical/sexual reverie. It's a sound provided, in healthy doses, on Laura Satterfield's sultry debut.

Satterfield is best known as the youngest member of the vocal group Walela, which includes her mother, Priscilla Coolidge, and her aunt Rita Coolidge. Yes, that Rita Coolidge. Satterfield herself is no spring chicken. She's got some miles on her -- which is all good, considering that most of the 11 tracks here deal with decidedly, um, adult material. (Hint: The deliciously funkified "Let Me Lay You Down" ain't about chiropractic adjustment.) Much of the best material here falls under the general heading of urban music, which is to say, a canny hybrid of funk and R&B. This includes the propulsive slab of soul "Straight Cream" and the up-tempo "Naked and Scared." But Satterfield's more gentle offerings are equally rewarding. With their dreamy guitar lines and shimmering keyboard fills, songs such as "Only For You" and "Blue Blue Chains" call to mind the solo work of Robbie Robertson. (Not surprisingly, Satterfield supplied background vocals on Robertson's last solo project.) The standout track here is "Sock 'N Soul," a ballad that nestles Satterfield's breathy voice atop the rousing backing vocals of a gospel choir.

Unlike so many of today's straight-to-market chanteuses, Satterfield isn't afraid to take her time in developing a vocal line. Her songs unspool themselves with a jazzy languor, which gives them room to breathe -- and which makes their moan-filled climaxes all the sweeter.

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Steve Almond
Contact: Steve Almond