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Laura Cheadle – Live On – Grade: B+

Submitted by on August 16, 2009 – 9:12 AMNo Comment
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Laura Cheadle’s newest release, Live On, released this spring, showcases a bright new female talent. Though she is accomplished on acoustic guitar, it is her voice that really sells this album. She has been honing that instrument since she was five and first strode across a stage. She toured the country as a child, singing with the Appreciation Choir for the Persian Gulf War in the early 90s, an entity started by her father, James Cheadle. Laura started really gigging with her brothers when she was 11, playing drums, at local churches, private parties, parades, and music venues in New Jersey. But it was when she discovered the acoustic guitar at 16 that she realized that she had something to say in songs. Teaching herself to play, she developed her own chord constructions and a very unique fingerstyle.

Laura Cheadle CDHer first CD, Maybe One Day, was produced by her father and recorded in 2003 in his studio in Philadelphia.  And from there, Laura has only gone on to bigger and bigger things, receiving radio play and playing the House of Blues in Atlantic City and eventually snagged a prime gig on NPR’s World Cafe. She went on to open for The Spin Doctors, Sister Hazel, and even The Jonas Brothers.

Laura’s new release marks her place as one of the leading music artists in Philly. This sophomore effort is a strong offering as her eleven original songs explore relationships and empowerment. Her “In the AM” and “Constantly” are the romantic fare one might expect from a woman singer/songwriter of her age. But this isn’t the only Crayola in her box of colors and even these tunes aren’t pastels. They are richer portrayals of couples.

Her strongest pieces on Live On, are songs that are destined to encourage young women. “Wind Up Doll,” for instance, is a powerful statement of independence, when she sings: “I’ll never settle for something less than me.” She’s backed up vocally here by her dad and an overdub of her own harmonies, and her brother, Nick Cheadle, on keys.

Then there is “Whatever Moves You,” an upbeat anthem of empowerment . Laura sings: “Keep your shoulders straight, girl/Hold your head up in this world/Keep your shoulders straight, girl/Do whatever moves you.”

Finally, “Something Today,” the last cut on the CD is deceptive. A naked track with just piano and vocal, you’d think it would be a romantic song. Instead, Laura has produced a portrait of life in the bustle of a big city and feelings of isolation and the need to connect.

These extremes in theme, from the romantic to the profound, are bridged by some fun tunes. For example, Laura rebels against unenlightened critics who state that “Funk is dead.” The song by that name is a rocking number with a great organ line done by James Cheadle, who assists throughout the album on many other instruments including keys and bass. Her brother, Jim Lee Cheadle, lays a wailing electric guitar track on that tune.  Her title cut, “Live On,” has a foot in both inspiration and fun, as well as sports a great harmonica by Steve Guyer and hand drums by  Paul Galonsky.

And there are many more gems on this CD. Laura Cheadle is a strong, new voice on the music scene who writes with intelligence and delivers each song with passion.yards_extra_special

Beer Pairing: For a Philadelphia rising star, a pairing from Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Company is especially suited. Their Extra Special Ale is a robust, hearty amber ale with a distinctive robust malt body and a little bite from its hop finish.