Although she’s only been recording for a decade, Boston-based fiddler, singer-songwriter, Berklee College of Music graduate and Boston Celtic Music Fest co-founder Laura Cortese has earned our respect and fandom dozens of times over, thanks to vibrant, voracious, and versatile output we described back in 2011 as “grounded in the lush, joyous, gleeful sound of the collaborative at work and play, and built around Cortese’s full-bodied, percussive, lusty fiddlework, her hearty yet oh-so-feminine vocals, and her playful, surprisingly deep songwriting.”
Indeed, one of Cortese’s great strengths as an artist is her willingness to build each new project from the ground up, letting each incidence find its own voice anew, with partners or in solo guise. As such, Cortese’s solo work, and her legendary collaborations with Jefferson Hamer, indietrad stars Aoife O’Donovan and Sam Amidon, pubfolk band Session Americana, Michael Franti, Pete Seeger, and numerous fellow fiddlefolk have run the gamut from sparse singer-songwriter to full-bore tradfolk, modern folk rock and folkpop, and chamberfolk, making for a surprisingly diverse canon for such a young musician.
Cortese’s newest project Into The Dark, which drops today, finds her performing and touring under her own name with a chamberfolk trio of equally adept stringplayers – cellist Natalie Haas, and Brittany Haas and Mariel Vandersteel on fiddles – plus plenty of special guests, and the results are sublime: hearty vocals over rich, poppy layers of fiddlefolk, kickdrums, and harmony that make the heart sing and the feet ache to move, with a contemporary mix of traditional, classical, and indie elements that speak to Cortese’s easy confidence at the crossroads of what modern folk is, and can be, at its best. Her promotional tour will take her from coast to coast over the next few months, with shows in NY, VT, ME & MA in the week ahead, and I’m thrilled to note that it will include a stop this Friday in The Parlor Room, a hip, intimate folkvenue recently established by Signature Sounds founder Jim Olsen in the heart of Northampton, with tickets still available as of presstime.
Here’s a pair of exclusive tracks to whet your whistle for the tour and album – a Laura Veirs cover from Into The Dark, and another trickle from that secret Kickstarter covers EP granted to a hardy few who gave to make her last album happen – plus a few previously-posted favorites to remind us of just why Laura Cortese remains atop our list of perennial favorites here at Cover Lay Down. Check ‘em out, hit up Laura’s website for tour dates, and purchase Into The Dark today.
- Laura Cortese: Boulder To Birmingham (orig. Emmylou Harris)
Laura Cortese: Take It Easy (orig. The Eagles / Jackson Browne)
(from Kickstarter Covers, 2012)
- Session Americana w/ Laura Cortese: Love Changes Everything (orig. Amy Correia)
(from Love and Dirt, 2012)
- Laura Cortese & Jefferson Hamer: A Song For You (orig. Gram Parsons)
(from 2 Amps 1 Microphone, 2010)