LIVE on Folk & Beyond with Aer Stephen
Thursday, January 7, 2010, 5:05 PM
photo by Jen Fariello
Since Lauren Hoffman
last appeared on Folk & Beyond in September of 2005
, her twenties have been replaced by her thirties, and much has changed in her world. Aer Stephen welcomes the return of an artist that is back home after many travels, and the acclaimed singer-songwriter is set to release her wonderful new CD, Interplanetary Traveler, next week on Januray 12. Please tune in as we explore the music from the new CD and find out the story behind the project.
After her last album in 2006, Lauren Hoffman
traveled high and low for the inspiration for the songs on her forthcoming release, Interplanetary Traveler. “This album,” she explains, “is about searching, and finding something to appreciate in simple or unexpected places. But I think mostly it’s about finding love inside of oneself and learning that it is the experience of loving, more than the experience of being loved, that brings deep happiness. It’s also about being an outsider” - a perspective Lauren became familiar with whilst wandering about and writing songs for nine months in far off places like India, Europe and Australia. “I was exploring a different side of myself; embracing innocence and naivety, in contrast to the world-weariness I had worn since adolescence.” The songs on Lauren’s previous three releases - Megiddo (1997), From The Blue House (2000) and Choreography (2006) - ranged from sardonic to melancholic, but were rarely as sweet, reverent, or hopeful as this profound and lovely new set. This global perspective is exemplified in the standout track, “Pictures From America,” which discusses the personal side of the connections and conflicts between America and Iraq as well as Israel and Palestine.
Upon her return home from her travels, Hoffman was at a crossroads: she celebrated her thirtieth birthday and could see a well-known path ahead of her, one that included settling down, going back to school or something else sensible, such as having kids and growing old. “But I felt like I had one more big adventure in me,” she says. “So I let go of the lease on my apartment, gave away the majority of my possessions, and went in search of a place to live and record my new songs.”
Trusting her intuition, she went to Israel to work with musician and producer, Assaf Ayalon, whom she had met only once before. The two formed a quick bond, and it was the rich and fruitful musical union that Lauren needed to complete her vision for Interplanetary Traveler. “I was excited to have a collaborator who totally got the essence of the songs, but could bring an entirely different palette of sounds and influences to the arrangements.” They began to demo the songs and plan the album, assuming that Lauren would stay and the two would build a band in Israel to tour in support of the album.
“But during pre-production, I found out that I was pregnant,” she says. “My world changed. I took a break from working on the album to go home to Virginia, get through the first-trimester morning sickness and to re-envision my future… how would I be a mom and a singer/songwriter at the same time?” One thing she did know was that the album was worth completing and, three months later, she returned to work with Assaf Ayalon in his small private studio in Israel on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Most of the recordings started out with a live acoustic take with Ayalon and Hoffman playing in a room together. “We wanted the album to have a live, intimate feel. Then we would bring in local musicians to flesh out our ideas.” After six weeks of arranging and recording the songs, Lauren returned home from her “big adventure” to prepare to become a mother. As it happened, creating Interplanetary Traveler was just the vehicle that guided her way to the biggest adventure yet. “Which has been by far the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she says, “and a thousand times more fulfilling and meaningful than I could ever have expected.”
Creating life has infused a new and optimistic energy into the well-crafted, emotionally intense sound that Hoffman is best known for. Eastern musical influences mesh well with Lauren’s easy and impactful voice, which carries her melodies effortlessly from one song to the next. Focusing on the human experience, Lauren writes songs about love, loss and a worldview that pays equal attention to the beauty that is revealed by the sun without losing focus on the shadows that such beauty creates. But what makes Lauren Hoffman special is not that she has traveled around the world. Or that she’s been to places that many Americans will never see. It’s the wisdom, care and talent to share her life-changing journeys in her music, thus allowing everyone who hears those songs to feel as if they went along for the ride, too. [reprinted with permission]
photo by Jen Fariello