Lauren Desberg – Twenty First Century Problems

desberg300-1Lauren Desberg – Twenty-First
Century Problems
Released – April 28, 2015

An ambitious debut from this 23-year-old Berklee student. It’s an admitted mashup of several styles – jazz, pop, R-and-B. She writes that today’s jazz leaves her cold, and she’s interested in updating the genre for today’s tastes – a sort of jazz for the post-modern era.

“I thought it was all inferior,” she writes. “But…I started hanging out with ‘pop kids.’ It was a different attitude and vibe and I really liked it.”

There’s no question but that Ms. Desberg is a talented young woman. My problem is much of her talent gets a bigfoot from the arrangements (by pianist Samora Pinderhughes) and the mix, presumably overseen by producer @DrewoftheDrew. It’s a wisp of a voice with a quiet power, but not enough to overcome a heavy hand on the knobs.

The backing band is tight – Walter Smith III on sax, Taylor Eigsti on piano, Chris Smith on bass and Corey Fonville on drums. Mr. Smith’s solos on “He Loves And She Loves” and “How Deep Is Your Love” are worthy of a solo album of his own.


And that’s what it sounds like – a band session into which Ms. Desberg wandered. The quieter pieces are the best – a remake of The Whispers’ “Rock Steady” is one of the tracks being touted as a single. I also liked “Down With Love” and “How Deep Is Your Love.” I like all of them – but none are particularly new sounding – they simply put Ms. Desberg’s gifted voice into a better frame.

Go looking for her early EP “Sideways,” and you’ll find a better mix in slightly more standard arrangements. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty to like here, and Ms. Desberg’s voice tops that list. You just have to look for it a little. This set is recommended.


Tracks in bold have been added to the playlist at Radio.

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