July 1998

Lisa Lauren - What Comes Around
Planet Jazz Records 643287
Released: 1998

by Bruce Bassett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on CD]Introduction: The Baby Boomer Cohort

Anyone who currently resides in a country that experienced a baby boom after World War II is no doubt familiar with the term "Baby Boomer." This sizable cohort, made up of people born between 1946 and the mid-1960’s, has had a tremendous influence on consumer goods and services. Let us look to the automotive industry for a quick example. This year we saw the entry of the "new" Volkswagen Beetle to the market. Sales of this remade "classic" have taken off as Boomers desiring to recapture those fond, peace-loving memories from the ‘60s and ‘70s flock to Volkswagen showrooms. However, if we take a closer look beyond the exterior appearance, we see very few similarities between the new fully loaded, performance-engineered Beetle and its bare-bones, beatnik ancestor. Why the difference? Quite simply, the Boomers have matured, their tastes have become more sophisticated, and their expectations of quality are now set much higher.

Chapter 1: From Beetles to the Beatles

Lisa Lauren has recognized that the Boomers have evolved into much more discriminating consumers with a penchant for nostalgia. She uses this craftily to her advantage by taking ‘60s pop tunes and jazzing new life into them with her unique brand of musical CPR. This is a potentially dangerous revival technique as there is the possibility one could bring back to life some kind of horrific elevator music. Thankfully, this is far from the case here, as Lauren takes a skilled surgeon’s approach, reinventing these old familiars with rhythmic style and clever sophistication. Lauren’s voice is endearingly sweet and rich, and her savory ivory tinkling anchors a myriad of solo instruments, inspiring them to shine. Particularly noteworthy are the glowing sax performances throughout, and the sizzling harmonica solo on "I’m Just Happy to Dance With You." A further testament to the quality of this project is Lauren’s ability to attract the highly acclaimed and ever-versatile Fareed Haque for the guitar duties. Believe me, you have never heard The Beatles’ songs sound as elegant as this before.

Chapter 2: Talking About My Generation

In addition to the covers, Lauren slides in three originals of her own. "Midlife" is the most notable as it embodies the essence of the disc and could be the anthem for a generation. She talks of the need to "get back to where we once belonged." With this, Lauren is not suggesting we try and relive the past but rather embrace the spirit for living we once had, at the same time being comfortable with who we are today. This spirit is captured in the sincerest form throughout her music.

Conclusion: What Comes Around

If we apply what we know about Boomers’ preferences to music, we can conclude that they yearn to feel as they did when listening to the Beatles 30 years ago. We can also surmise that their aural palettes have expanded considerably since then, with higher expectations for quality. If these statements are indeed accurate, then Lisa Lauren has successfully taken what comes around and delivered it to her generation in laudable fashion.


Lauren, Lisa, what comes around, Planet Jazz Records, available in record stores throughout the Chicago area or by e-mailing Lisa Lauren at Lisaboomer@aol.com.