The first time I heard Laura Boswell sing and play the guitar it was fall 2014, and I was recording a music video with the Feats of Strength at a barn in Pine Grove Mills. Boswell was there recording too, and she blew me away.
I was captivated by her intricate finger-picking, which was just loud enough to resonate throughout the barn, but was wonderfully delicate and woven with seemingly effortless technicality. It was tough for me to get a handle on her rhythm, but when she started singing it all came together with a shimmering and wistful quality, and then I understood.
What I understood is that Boswell is a musical gem. Thankfully, she recently released a new album, “Fall Away,” and she is planning a national tour that will lead her back to the east coast, just in time for the holidays.
“I’m in the beginning stages of organizing shows around the country for this coming summer,” Boswell said. “I’ve wanted to go on a tour and I think now is a good time, having two albums under my belt.”
Boswell’s previous release is “Counting Eyes,” and both of her albums are available on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp, and both feature Boswell’s original songs.
“My songwriting style has evolved and changed since I recorded my first album, along with my voice,” Boswell said. “The songs on this latest album were almost all 3-5 years old when I recorded them. It’s important to me to capture their essence before I grow beyond them both stylistically and experientially. My songs represent and express my experience as a person, which changes over time.”
Boswell is a singer-songwriter for sure, but she’s also a classically trained guitarist, and it would be hard to find someone who can pick a guitar more beautifully than her. “Fall Away” has Boswell’s signature sound, which for this album includes contributions from local accordion player Denise Strayer, drummer Josh Troupe and stylist Eric Ian Farmer.
“Most of the songs were written on the guitar, with two banjo tunes on the album,” Boswell said. “I’m primarily finger-picking. You’ll hear a lot of accordion, drum kit and upright bass.”
When I listened to “Fall Away” I was immediately taken by the guitar playing. I don’t know what it is, but Boswell manages to pick in patterns I haven’t heard before, and they frequently combine with dancing drum beats, upright bass and even sometimes a full band sound with Strayer, Troupe and Farmer in the mix.
The title track stands out in particular, as it’s a crossover sound between Boswell’s innovative finger-picking and some old time tones. When she sings, she sings about love, encounters and missing people and attachments that emanate throughout the songs, and it’s all spun together right here in State College..
“I recorded it with Bob Klotz at both his home and the Penn State music studio,” Boswell said. “I feel grateful to have worked with Bob.”
Touring, recording, promoting and all business side, music is ultimately an endeavor of the heart for Boswell, which is why she’s so gifted and prolific. It’s not just that she has talent. She reveals her heart space through her music, and that’s what her music is about — a journey through her lovely, ancient heart.
“When I play music, especially when I perform, I’m able to access a true presence of body and mind. A stillness,” Boswell said. “I definitely experience an emotional release when I write, play and perform. I’m able to go to a place deep within myself, and to be able to intimately share that with others takes the experience to an entirely different level. It is magical.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.