A Vivoscene Feature Review by Brian Miller
Vivoscene rating 9.0
Well, folks, this is the album you have to have. It’s called Carny Life, and it’s the debut album by Pebaluna, a indie-folk group based in Los Angeles. And what a debut it is! We’ve had Carny Life in heavy rotation since a preview dropped at our offices about two weeks ago. Had it arrived in vinyl format, we’d be ordering up a replacement by now. That’s how often it’s been played. The album will be out September 18th. You can pre-order it through iTunes.
The gorgeous and sultry singer who fronts Pebaluna is Lauren Coleman, and she has teamed up with Matt Embree (RX Bandits, The Sound of Animals Fighting), who plays some spectacular guitar. Together and separately they’ve written a wide range of original material. They’re further supported by drummer Jessica Lankford and bassist Jonathan Grillo.
Lauren spent some time singing with a Las Vegas church choir as well as getting down with the music of Aretha Franklin. That said, you won’t hear much of gospel or soul music in her voice, but what you will hear is genuine, soulful and highly inventive in its twists and turns. Hers is a voice of rare beauty, as well-suited to rock as it is to intimate folk. She is simply a delicious singer. She released a 5 song EP called Acoustic Sessions in September, 2009 and it’s well worth securing. For some years now she’s also been posting at-home performances on YouTube in regular spots she calls Pebasodes, gathering passionate admirers by the score. Well, this week the staff of Vivoscene has been through all 14 Pebasodes. This could very well be what’s in store for you as well once you’ve heard a bit of Carny Life.
The album opens with “All Falling Down”, and signals an immediate departure from Pebaluna’s folkie past, with its jazzy guitar riffs, string accompaniment, stop-time rhythms and Lauren’s passionate vocals delivering a surprisingly optimistic outlook on life. The next track “No I Can’t” has recently been released as the first single, and it’s a disarmingly honest lover’s take on why a relationship probably isn’t going to work. We’ve all been there, though, having to explain to someone who is completely enamoured with us why we’re not the one after all. Then there’s “Sister Sara” with its complex layerings and dream-like atmosphere providing counterpoint to the pointed lyrics: “Sara came in /stinking of gin/ saying I got the time /if you got the sin”. It sounds like a lost classic from Fleetwood Mac, though Lauren is twice the singer that Stevie Nicks ever was. Overstatement? – not really, particularly when you hear her and Matt sing “Baby What’s Wrong” – this could easily have been a Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris outtake from the Grievous Angel sessions.
Then there’s the rocked-out numbers” “Honey”, “Hopeless” and “Please Me”, in which Lauren pulls no punches with her powerful vocalizing. Frankly, it’s as surprising as hearing Alison Mosshart from The Kills perform “Wonderful World”, and equally as convincing. And that’s one of the great pleasures of hearing Lauren Coleman sing: one minute she brings to mind what she could do with just about any Kills number, and the next she’s sounding like Sylvana Kane from Pacifika, or the Wailing Jennys with their folk perfection.
You can stream the entire album Carny Life here:
Our verdict: highly recommended.
Pebaluna will be performing a handful of dates leading up to the release of the album. Stay tuned to https://www.facebook.com/Pebaluna for more information!
Pebaluna Tour Dates:
Aug 22 – Santa Ana, CA – The Constellation Room
Aug 23 – San Diego, CA – The Irenic
Aug 24 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Cafe
Aug 25 – Santa Barbara, CA – Velvet Jones
Aug 26 – San Francisco, CA – Hotel Utah
Watch: Live performance of “No I Can’t”