Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunday Lane From Where You Are

Emerging artist Sunday Lane never imagined becoming a singer-songwriter. She was just an ordinary girl growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And like many children in Tulsa, her parents wanted to expose her to music.

At the age of 5, they enrolled her at the Janell Whitby School of Music led by Janell Whitby to learn classical piano. But there is something different about the way Whitby teaches. She believes all children are born with a natural aptitude for music and nurtures their connection to it as early as possible.

"I wouldn't trade all the time I spent there for the world," says Lane. "The school not only helped me learn to play, but also understand it, feel it, and eventually love it."

Even as Lane grew into her music, singing and songwriting was still the furthest thing from her mind. At 12, she learned to play chords and joined a band instead — a setting she wanted to be part of. But this isn't a story of a classically trained pianist from middle America who joined a band and later found her voice at 15. Not at all.

Sunday Lane is a gifted songwriter and deeply passionate singer. 

Lane cut loose from Tulsa to attend Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. What she found there was the makings of a musical career at the Musicians Institute of Hollywood. Although unsigned, two of her songs have since been picked up for the television show One Tree Hill.

Both — Heavy Heart, Heavy Hands and Reckless One — appeared on her debut EP Bring Me SunShine. The latter is most likely to become a live show staple, a song about someone willing to fall in love with someone who isn't ready to fall in love.

The EP is good, but her new indie album co-produced with drummer Zach Annett is what caught my attention. From Where You Are is an 11-track blend of piano-driven indie pop, with some folk rock leanings.

The best track is the sad and sobering Painted Blue. Inspired by the realization that you can't be someone's everything, the song is bittersweet in its wisdom and pained in the loss of the illusion. Although stronger with the backing of her piano off the studio track, the live cut captures Lane's spirit as it gets going, weeping out the words as much as she sings them.

"Down the line, I'd love to work with other producers but I'd always like to have a say in the production because my songs mean a lot to me, and the way they are presented," says Lane, who often draws from personal experience. "I wrote Slowly when I was 17 and had my heart broken for the first time."

The song captures the moment between being hurt and still wanting the person who hurt you. And yet, Lane works in the realization that there is no benefit in a slow departure. The longer you hang on, the longer it hurts.

"There comes a time when you can't linger in the pain any longer and you have to let each other go," she says. "Writing has always been therapeutic for me."

Although Slowly means the most to her personally, dramatic tracks such as Waltzing With Fire and Let Me Go capture her range. She co-wrote both with singer-songwriter Hannah Crockett and immediately knew she wanted to include both on her next album.

"We played a lot of shows together last year and both of those songs were written when we were supposed to be practicing," says Lane. "I wrote the lyrics, but she helped shape the melodies and instrumentation. Solo writing and co-writing music and are two very different experiences, but I love them both."

It was also those songs, as well as her upbeat A Little Too Young, where Lane almost seems reminiscent of folk rock singer-songwriter Melanie (Melanie Safka) in the mid 1970s. Although Lane is unfamiliar with the artist, the two singer-songwriters share a commonality in that they sound wiser than their years.

From Where You Are By Sunday Lane Rises To 5.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Sunday Lane is an emerging artist pick who could easily move toward pop or folk rock. The latter seems likely as she said she would like her next album to be more guitar-driven. As long as she can retain the soulfulness of her voice, I'd cover it. If you are in Los Angeles this weekend, you can catch her third during a showcase set On The Rox (above the Roxy) on July 21. I plan to be there.

Otherwise, you can find From Where You Are by Sunday Lane on iTunes. From Where You Are is also available on Amazon. You can keep up with her solo career on Facebook, but she also splits her time as part of Thick As Thieves, a contemporary mashup band that blends pop harmonies with hip hop and rock.
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