I recently got the chance to chat to Laura Evans about her forthcoming summer shows around the country (her first for over a year), including the Buckle & Boots Festival, as well as her new music, including single and video, Good at Getting Over You, which topped the UK iTunes Blues Chart and gained lots of airplay.
Hi, Laura, how are you?
Oh, I’m good thanks. How are you?
Pretty good! It’s nice to see the sun!
I know, it’s a lovely day today, isn’t it?
Let’s start off with even more good news besides the nice weather, and talk about your forthcoming summer dates…
Yes, awesome! Nice to finally have shows to shout about.
How did you decide now was the right time to start playing live again?
Well, it all kind of happened a little organically, actually. I was just waiting for things to start opening up. I knew Paul Sexton at the Sound Lounge was putting on some shows there, and he offered us the date with a friend of mine, an artist called Hollie Rogers, so that popped up. And I’m kind of friends with a lot of artists who are like a little collective of artists, really, and we work together and help each other out. And one of the artists, Connor (Selby), he got booked at the Theatre on the Steps, which is in Shropshire, and the booker there said, “I’d love to do a double-headline show,” so then he booked me for that.
The Buckle & Boots Festival was something that I was scheduled to do last year, and of course it didn’t happen. So that’s just a follow-on from last year, really.
And then we have another date at the Uckfield Civic Centre on the 1 October, and the Blues & Roots Festival in Swanage on October 2, and then we’re repeating the same show at the January Blues Festival at the 100 Club in London in January (2022).
The music that you released last year, and the recent KT Tunstall cover, is all very impressive. It sounds like you’ve really solidified your sound.
Yeah, it was tricky, but last year before I recorded the EP, we listened to all my songs. And it wasn’t really about what direction we were gonna go in, it was just I had about 10 songs, and I was putting four on the EP. It just came down to the best songs. And then when we recorded them, they had a bluesy vibe. Some had a more country vibe. So, I didn’t really make a conscious decision to change my genre, or move into another genre, as it were. We just picked the best songs, like the hit songs that I thought everyone would want to sing along to and could relate to. And they did lend themselves to a more bluesy, rootsy kind of sound.
I really love the funky Live Masterlink version of Drag Me Back In with Redtenbacher’s Funkestra!
Oh yes, the live version. It’s funny, because I love the radio version of that so much. The one I do live with that band, I wasn’t sure. Like, “Oh, this is really way-out!” But now I’ve started to love it, because it’s a different take on the song, really.
You love to sing a big ballad as well as the more rocky stuff. Do you have a preference in terms of singing, or do you just like singing all of it?
Yeah, I love singing all of it. I have to really push myself to write more upbeat songs, ‘cause it doesn’t come as easy to me. I can write ballads all day, and I love writing ballads, but we can’t have a whole album of ballads, as much as I love them. And then when I wrote Drag Me Back In and Solo I was like, “Wow, they’re the most upbeat poppy, radio-sounding songs, I’ve ever written.” So, I think it needs to be a good mix, especially for a festival, where you want to get the crowd going.
How has the last year been for you during lockdown?
Obviously, it was really hard, and an incredibly tough year for everybody, and especially artists who sing live and play live for a living. But I had all of this pre-recorded by February, so I stuck with my plan, pandemic or not, to release the music. I had a whole plan to release two singles, and then an EP in July, and then another single. So, because I didn’t have any live shows and I wasn’t touring or running around anywhere, I actually had a bit more time to focus on strategy, and putting them out, and reaching out to radio stations. So, I guess it looked like I was busy, but I just had a lot more time to just plan it all out. I did release a lot, really, because I wrote a lot, so I guess I was very creative during that year.
Have you got a lot of material in the can ready to be released?
Yeah, definitely. I write loads. I’ll have another two or three songs produced and ready to go. But because I hadn’t performed any of this new music live, I didn’t want to rush and release more new music, because I’m not really ready. I’m still on this last EP, and the fact that I get to play it live now this year will be lovely.
Why did you decided to cover KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and the Cherry Tree? What was the thinking behind that? I saw that she actually praised the cover on social media.
I feel like that song kind of went under the radar, back in the day, and it was an iconic song for female artists, just because she was the first female artist playing all the instruments herself. It was a quirky song. I just felt that KT Tunstall was a kind of revolutionary at that time. She was a British artist doing something different. And I like the song. I just wanted to revisit it, really. I tried to stay true to the record, but give it a tiny bit of flavour of something different. Obviously, loads of people cover that song, so it is a bit hard, you can’t mess it up!
She was such a pioneer. She was using a looper pedal live on stage way before the likes of Ed Sheeran.
Yeah, I think she started that whole phase, and started something that was very cool. Maybe we’re benefitting from it now.
Can you tell me about your experiences in Nashville, including getting to perform at the legendary Bluebird Café.
Well, I’ve been travelling back and forth to Nashville since about 2014. I’ve been going back and forth there every year once a year. And over the last six, seven years I’ve just got to know more people, and written with different people and got into rooms just to write songs.
It’s such an amazing place, you can’t help but feel inspired when you’re there. It was a bit serendipitous, that opportunity to play the Bluebird. I’d written a song with a songwriter called Jeff Cohen, I think it was on the Monday, and he said, “I’m playing the Bluebird on Wednesday, you should come down and play.” So, that’s how that happened. And I was like, “Wow, pinch me!” I just wish I could go there more often. I go there once a year and cram it all in and try and soak up and write as much as I can. Obviously, I didn’t go in 2020. I’m hoping to go this year in October.
What was the Nashville songwriting experience like? How does it compare to songwriting over here?
I kind of write the same way, but when I go there I’m much more focused. So, if I’m there for two weeks, I write every single day when I’m there. Sometimes twice a day. And I have it all scheduled, so I feel like I just cram a lot more in. And then I guess the more people you write with, the more inspired you are and the more opportunities there are. It just seems like when you’re there, you’re doing it. Obviously, it’s Music City, everyone’s doing it, but there’s like a magic there that you feel like you’re in the vibe, in the zone. You can’t help but feel inspired, which, of course, I feel inspired all the time when I’m a songwriter here, but there’s something about getting on a plane to Nashville which changes your mindset. It’s just very different to getting up here and getting on the train and going to North London!
And finally, what was it like supporting the Shires?
It was amazing. I’ve supported them twice, actually, at Chepstow Castle. Honestly, one of the best gigs of my life. Because first of all, they’re amazing, and they have amazing fans. It was a sellout, and all their fans love country music and loved my set. And to play my set to a crowd full of those fans, and in a beautiful venue was just magical. It was amazing.
Check out Laura’s website and social media sites to find out her full list of tour dates.
By Maura Sutton