With her domineering vocals and infectious personality, the ever-changing Laura Tsaggaris has been one to look out for. In a preview of the upcoming release of her fourth album on iTunes on Feb. 17, she put on a show at the 9:30 Club on Feb. 4, and her performance represented the full spectrum of personality that may be expected in “Live at the Atlas.” Comprised of old songs rearranged to reflect her new musical direction, this upcoming album distances itself from her folk roots. Instead, it leans towards deeper, mellow ballads for this fresh treasure.
As stated by the artist in a one-on-one interview, “At this point in my career, it was important to strip things down and challenge myself with everything that goes into a live recording – to really showcase my voice and what I do as a solo performer. I’m excited to have an ‘unplugged’ option for listeners to go to.” Such a desire certainly came to life as she shifted between heart-pumping rock hits to reflective ballads; this self-defined rock artist has something in store for those in all ranges of emotional capacity.
After the disappointing opening by Justin Jones and the B-sides, the atmosphere’s spirit was definitely lacking. Although Justin Jones’ dominant vocals and quick sarcasm were greatly entertaining, the lack of variety in the song arrangements resulted in a monotonous performance hyperbolized by the unreceptive audience. This was only exacerbated by the low attendance for the performance. Comprised of a handful of middle-aged couples and somber lone wolves by the bar fist pumping off beat, the typically bustling 9:30 Club represented only a shell of its usual self. Due to this disappointing turnout, the euphoric experience expected to accompany a live rock performance faded under the brightness of iPhone screens.
Tsaggaris managed to make such details trivial, instantly raising the energy of the room exponentially through her guttural shrieks and raunchy side commentary. In a desire to incorporate a cinematic element, the song list strategically juxtaposed strong emotions with blood pumping dance hits to direct the audience through an emotional roller coaster. Although the atmosphere of the concert left something to be desired, Laura used this to her advantage by making the concert more personal and constantly interacting with the audience. In a personal favorite ‘Only in Daydreams,’ Laura seemed to serenade every single audience member, reminiscent of Charles Trenet. Her long experience touring around the country displayed itself in this impressive stage presence, as it was completely unaffected by the lack of reciprocity noted in the audience members.
If Laura’s ranging vocal capacity was not enough, the dexterity of the musicians and camaraderie on stage helped raise the audience members’ spirits. Laura’s own guitar skills coupled with the striking range of the saxophone player gave her performance the depth necessary to complement her heartfelt lyrics. Her song “Finish What You Started” had particularly striking lyrics ideal for introspection, such as: “Sometimes the darkest place gets all the light that you needed.”
Laura then incorporated crowd-pleasing country blues reminiscent of Miranda Lambert in her more popular songs “Ask for It” and “Dig.” Her experience as a music teacher became obvious as the crowd attempted to learn to whistle along to “I Am Not in Control” or air guitar “Everyman” unsuccessfully. For someone who began her career only playing the acoustic guitar, it was refreshing to see Laura’s drive to exploring different sounds, instruments and arrangements in this album release.
Both empowering and reflective, Laura Tsaggaris’s new album revealed itself ideal for road trips; ready to embrace the future while reflecting on the past. While the country influence may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Laura’s contagious spirit certainly is. Featuring everything from head-bobbing tracks to chin-scratching ballads, Laura’s new album has listeners ready to grab life by the horns, embracing past mistakes and racing towards the new adventure to come.