By: Bill Clifford
Live at Tree Sound Studios (Tree Sound) is the first of two planned releases by Asheville, North Carolina's Laura Reed and Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta. The dual CD/DVD set was recorded in Atlanta on New Year's Eve 2007 and March 9th, 2008 at the famed, environmentally friendly studio (Nappy Roots and Perpetual Groove) and is produced by James Chambers (Outkast). The band is currently recording their sophomore studio CD – the follow up to its independent debut, Soul:Music – at Tree Sound, due sometime in 2009.
The eleven-track Live audio CD features five new songs as well as six from Soul:Music. From Reed's opening introduction and throughout the CD, her soulful delivery and spirituality are heard loud and clear as she announces, "We are all blessed. Not just all us right here, but all of us. So no matter what, we gotta give thanks to the Most High, every time," followed with an uplifting, gracefully bellowed "Yeaaaaaah" chorus. She's supported by steady electric guitar, swelling organ and funky horns. The upbeat funk laid down by Deep Pocket as well as guest musicians, including the Asheville Horns (Greg Hollowell & Derrick Johnson), match Reed's mystical vocals on "Why Have A Frown."
Yet, Live has far more to offer than just gospel praise, such as on "Thank You," which may be the most pleasant breakup song ever written. Backed by rolling Hammond organ by Deep Pocket's Ryan Burns, this new song salutes an ex-lover for the many ways he/she touched her life. Reed is tastefully backed on vocals by the equally soulful Debrissa McKinney, on the CD's finest duet and ballad. Then, the groove gets downright dirty on the bouncy, bluesy "Gotta Pay The Man," with Burns once again laying it down thick on the Hammond.
The DVD is a nice addition to this recording, offering a bit of a glimpse of one of the South's most promising new bands onstage, where they truly shine. Disappointingly, the five tracks represented are all represented on the audio CD instead of widening the project's scope by adding several fresh tracks. It does offer a fair representation of the tight camaraderie onstage between Reed and her fellow musicians, and the DVD weaves in interview footage and tour stop frolics, such as when the band visited Colorado's famed Red Rocks Amphitheater, showing us Reed belting it to an empty theater. Her stage presence and overall charisma are obvious throughout this set, but it's on closer "Train" where she absolutely lets go with the kind of foot stomping performance that's sure to kick up some dust around the festival circuit next summer.
Live At Tree Sound Studios is an excellent representation of where this band is at and where they're headed, and makes a fine holdover until the new CD arrives in '09.
JamBase | Rooted
Go See Live Music!