"Home is what I know," croons soul songstress Lisa Donnelly in wistful yet reassuring melody and candor. These thematic words close her upcoming album and affirm the discoveries of a wandering life. Donnelly has moved around some: She's seen the states, Europe, and South America, and takes road trips up and down California like she's going to the corner store. But a road bound lifestyle does not come without lessons, and Donnelly has spun hers into a grounding verity that shimmers in her new collection of tunes.
Donnelly whetted her appetite as a youth by singing blues and rock standards with old-salt locals in her hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. After finishing college she took her stage experience to Los Angeles and explored different styles of music, but settled into the pop-songwriter genre to release a full length album. In a soul searching mood she then plotted a course to San Francisco, where she discovered a strange warmth and overwhelming solace which juxtaposed LA's hard-knuckled work code.
What began for her as a search for change in a different city suddenly felt instead like a return, and her sidelined roots started to shape songs that would constitute her new album.
Donnelly's brand is cowgirl rock and soul, but she lays it down with a sultry attitude that cuts deep. New songs like 'Whoa They Got You' radiate take-charge blues-mama sass she is Mama D among friends while others like 'Long Days Highways' lean on the sweet and forthcoming motifs of classic country. Each song shines in discreet and poignant style, but not without the help of her LA-based producer Ethan Allen. When Ben Harper guitarist Jason Mozersky introduced the two, the connection felt immediately authentic. Allen empathized with Donnelly's musical background and became an old friend nearly overnight. They spent hundreds of days together honing the sound for the new record, and by peeling back layer after layer, were able to reveal a core that would echo both Donnelly's down home spirit and traveler's wisdom. Allen's relaxed, creative, and enthusiastic personality let Donnelly feel at home.
Their chemistry bodes well: In the midst of album production, and in a week's notice, the two pulled together an original song for ABC's The Bachelorette, which Lisa then performed on live national television on December of 2012. But this is just a preview of Donnelly's accolades. She's had several song placements both in feature films and television shows, performs country-wide, and has collaborated with an impressive list of songwriters and producers. Most recently and to tout her versatility she sang with the Blind Boys of Alabama as well as grammy nominated house producer Andy Caldwell. What better way to celebrate these accomplishments than the release of a fresh record.
Aptly titled, 'Home' is the declaration of a wandering soul and is a welcome mat for the weary. It is the culmination of her travels, both worldly and spiritually. Her lessons in movement and displacement cement an expression of what it means to arrive at a place of comfort, but an arrival is rarely a destination. Donnelly closes her new album by asking listeners, "When the circle's round, will you follow through?" For Donnelly, home is where the heart leads you.
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