Laura Oakes - Welcome To The Family / The Ones We Had To Leave Behind
Like London buses, you wait for ages and then 2 Laura Oakes singles drop in successive weeks, both highlighting just how excellent her current vein of creativity is. The last few shows #TEAMw21 saw Laura in, we heard her play a batch of tunes that any global singer songwriter would want to have in their set, even as stripped back acoustic numbers they sounded that good. The first of these to materialise is "Welcome To The Family", which comes with some nice modern computer trickery to perhaps appeal to a wider audience, but don't fear they are enhancing and unobtrusive and with a banjo playing throughout Laura does not wander to far from her Country roots.
It is roots that play a key part in this song, perhaps taking a tangential lyrical leap from fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartneys' "Let 'em In" ( subliminally always playing in our heads as part of the Postcode Lottery Soundtrack ), Laura paints a picture of the sights and people we are likely to meet if we cross the threshold at Oakes Towers! - ! A look behind the curtains" as she puts it.
The joys of the writing is that it is so clearly personal, the little details shared leave you in no doubt that these people and situations must be real while at the same time they are so universal and could apply to any of our families - you may need to switch the names but we all have surely seen the following play out "Mum and Aunt Peggy still haven't spoken but they'll smile and act polite" while Uncle Barry is "Rocking out to Frampton Comes Alive". All of this comes out of the idea that at some point you need to share your whole life with someone and they need to meet the family.
Some of the cheeky writing of "Glitter" has filtered through in this quite excellent little single so there are plays on words for when "Roots start showing" and "I've shown you mine now you show me yours". It all goes along with the effortless ease of something like Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" - let's hope it does even half as well as that did.
For someone who seems to be intrinsically linked with Christmas, ( who can forget the sight of Laura bashing out Christmas songs on the streets of various cities in the increasing freezing cold) this is actually her first Christmas single and it is fabulous.
Co written with Robbie Cavanagh she evokes the spirit of Christmas and New Year not with sleigh bells and choirs but with heartfelt moving lyrics and Laura singing her heart out in a most restrained yet emotional manner extracting every ounce of sentiment from each line.
It is a beautifully timeless recording that could have been made at any time over the last 50 years and will sound as good at any time in the next 50, as it acknowledges the traditions of Christmas, "resolutions.... the promise of improvements" while taking time out to think of those that will not be at the celebrations - "the folks departed". In these days of over production and facile sentiment what could be simpler than a beautifully played piano and wonderful voice?
Move over the Pogues and Kirsty McColl there is a new definitive Christmas single in town - if someone gets this on the Radio 2 playlist - i'm off to put a flutter on the Xmas number one!!