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Lara Taubman Opens Up About Her Journey to ‘The Gospel of Getting Free’

New York City-based Americana singer-songwriter Lara Taubman will release her new album, The Gospel of Getting Free, on June 21, via Atomic Sound.

Taubman shares, “My new album, ‘The Gospel of Getting Free,’ has been like a ship on which I can finally sail home. I see only now that my three albums are primers that guide me out of my own complex trauma to become my true self.”

Taubman started out working in the arts as a visual artist and critic. After a period in the wilds of Montana, she was inspired to start creating music, drawing on her passion for artists like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, David Byrne, and dozens of others as well as her bluegrass-fed childhood in coal country in Virginia. She soon created a style of Americana and gospel-inspired folk that brought all her inspirations together.

In 2015, she began writing music, and after honing her craft and arriving at her sound, released her first album, Revelation in 2020. With a distinctive voice that’s equal parts Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell and a storytelling ability that rivals both, Taubman also found her audience with this goosebump-inducing release. She followed with two more albums and a handful of singles between 2022 and 2023.

The central theme of Taubman’s work is a yearning to grow and be free from trauma and pain.

Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Lara Taubman to talk about the inspiration for the new album and her journey to fulfillment.

What three things can’t you live without?

  1. Singing, performing, and writing songs. 2. Meaningful Relationships. 3. My spirit.

What inspired your upcoming album, The Gospel of Getting Free?

My first 2 albums ‘Revelation’ and ‘Ol’ Kentucky Light’ definitely inspired ‘The Gospel of Getting Free.’ Songs from the latest album like ‘The Siren,’ ‘Assyrian King’ and ‘So Not Me’ fall under my songs about working through old memories, bad habits, and psychological traumas that have impacted my life. But on this one, I wanted to speak to the joy in my life. I wanted to talk less about despair and more of the true joy, even ecstatic experiences I was having by showing the inner workings of how I deal with despair.  Songs like ‘Reason I Was Born’ and ‘Sing Your Song’ exemplify that.

I wanted to discuss addictive behavior in my song ‘Sugar.’ I am allergic to sugar, and I am also addicted to it. My need for it and other addictive behaviors I have had are what inspired the song. When I began writing it, I thought of Lord Invader and Calypso music. I have always loved how Calypso delivers bad news with an upbeat. I feel like that makes a message even more dangerous and edgy, much like how an addiction feels, wonderful, uncontrollable, and overwhelming all at the same time.

I wrote most of these songs last summer, but as I got closer to the studio time in January and things in the world became very dark in the fall of 2023, I felt compelled to write about what was happening in the world. While I don’t make political music, I believe in stories and metaphors to communicate collective truths. I wrote songs like ‘Home at Last’ and ‘The Gospel of Getting Free’ with this in mind. Good versus evil and its never-ending cycle and the hope that persists despite those who are sacrificed.

Walk us through your mindset as you recorded the album. 

There is always a lot of excitement, preparation, nerves, and anxiety as I head into recording week. We track everything in the first week which is always a lot of fun for me as a singer because I get to play around with phrasing and how things are sounding with the whole band for the first time. It’s exciting hearing everything come to life from the demo. I also love the guys I work with. Steven Williams on drums as well as the producer, Walter Parks on guitar and co-writer. Askold Buk on guitar and co-writer, Teddy Kumpel on guitar and co-writer, Paul Frazier on bass, and Etienne Lytle on keys. I am very fortunate to have this great team of award-winning musicians share their creativity and years of experience with me and my vision.

I love where I record in Brooklyn at Atomic Sound Recording Studios. The Neves soundboard and owner and engineer Merle Chornuk are in a world-class recording studio that feels really creative and home-y to me.

The second week when I record vocals is always stressful. I got to prepare for 2 weeks before I had to go in and record. I am always learning a great deal during vocal weeks about myself and what it takes to give a dynamic vocal. It’s also interesting to see which songs are a no-brainer to get a good take and how others are more demanding. I learned a lot about the music that I made.

At the end of the second week for this album, I was exhausted but satisfied and felt like I gave it everything I had to give. That is all I can ever hope for.

Is there a track on The Gospel of Getting Free that is more personal to you than the others?

Gosh, what a question! They, of course, are all my babies. So all very personal.

The title track is deeply personal. I have always loved the grail stories of the Knights of the Round Table. It meant a lot to me to riff on that tale as a way to show the eternal struggles of good and evil. I admit that the character of the magical boy is also me struggling with myself, struggling with the evil and good in my own mind and heart.  It’s also a way to show that miracles have saved my life so many times and so many times, because of music. I also loved the production and arrangement on that one, it emerged in the studio and came to us like an opening flower. I feel like it possesses the intimacy of the album as well as the storytelling and the unusual sounds on it. I love to write epic songs, and I was very grateful that that one showed up for me for this project. I never know if they will come but they did and I think me and my co-writer Askold Buk turned it into a song worthy of the story.

My second most personal: ‘The Siren,’ my third, ‘Home at Last,’ my fourth, ‘The Odyssey.’

LOL, I couldn’t resist!

How did you get started in music?

I have listened closely to all kinds of music my entire life. It has been a guide through hardship for me. I have been a singer and performer since I was 8 years old, but I quit when I was 18 because of personal trauma. I became a painter and then had a long career in the visual arts as a curator and art critic. In 2015 I was living in Montana in a marriage that wasn’t good. I heard the call one day, a voice in my head, that told me on my deathbed, that I would not regret having children but that I would regret not having sung and performed in public. So I got a guitar and started writing songs. My marriage blew up soon after, I moved back to New York City and the rest is history.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. I had a lot of family in New York City, so I feel like I partly grew up here because I visited family so much as a child.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

It definitely did. My music might not sound like the bluegrass and Old-Time music which is the signature music of the southwest Virginia region. When I began to write songs and find people to learn from, it was the Texas musicians Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark. Digging into their music led me to re-discover my roots in Old Time music, artists like Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson, English and Irish ballads, and the history of the music of my region. It has had a very powerful and resounding effect on my songwriting.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, Mavis Staples, Steve Earle, Tom Petty, Blind Faith, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, David Byrne, PJ Harvey, David Bowie,

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction? 

A little of both. I think that part of creating is a delicate balance. It is powerful to connect to the music you love through emulation, and I use that to help me light the way to what I am really trying to express that is unique to me and my sound.

What kind of guitar do you play?

I am grateful to say for my birthday my mom just got me the latest Steve Earle collab with Martin of the 0000 size 14 fret guitar.  I’ll be playing that all summer. I love guitars and the ones that I have all tell me different stories and melodies.

What is your definition of tone? And has your tone changed over time?

I appreciate this question but I’m not quite sure what you mean. I am guessing you mean the integrity of a sound. It has taken me a while to evolve how I hear as a musician as opposed to someone who only listens to music. I am always looking for freedom and honesty in my vocals and in my playing and writing. As I learn and get closer to who I really am as a performing singer-songwriter and as a human being, the quality of my tone feels deeper and more grounded.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

Other artists from all kinds of art-making and music genres inspire me to want to create more songs. Mostly though, I just hear things, almost like someone is whispering a line in my ear. More often than not, that’s where I have begun most of my songs. Sometimes I can be walking in the woods or walking around New York City and I’ll see something or hear my thoughts clearly and realize that it’s something worth sitting with. Sometimes my instruments send me stories and melodies too.

What can you share about your writing process?

I wrote most of my first songs out of a traumatized place and some days could only sit with the guitar and a pencil for 20 minutes. I still got a lot done. I just committed to those 20 minutes every day and one day, I had an album’s worth of songs. I have been writing in one way or another my whole life but writing songs has been my favorite way to express myself. Songwriting feels less like a rigorous task of discipline to me than a ghost who slips in and out waiting for me to receive what they’ve got to say.

Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and start your music career over again, what would you do differently? 

I would have started earlier than 48 years old if for nothing else than the sanity and satisfaction making music brings me. I have never been so happy in my creative work.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?

I will be playing a few NYC shows this summer as well as a show in Easthampton, Mass. At the Luthier’s Co-op. The album releases on June 21, 2024, and I am very excited for that. There will be some events associated with that over the next couple of months so keep an eye out. It will all be on my website.

Follow Lara Taubman Website | Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

Randy Radic

Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.

Randy Radic
Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.

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