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First Thoughts Review: 'Woman in the Arena' by Lauren Ray

Lauren Ray is a UK Singer Songwriter who has firmly established herself as an independent artist with her catchy melodies and lyrical depth. She has supported the likes of Rebecca Ferguson, Anastacia and Paul Carrack on their UK & European tours and has received big UK regional radio support including airplay on BBC London and BBC introducing.

Lauren's latest album 'Woman in the Arena' was recorded with hit UK producer Julian Emery (Lissie, Nothing But Thieves) and aims to showcase Lauren's ability to move effortlessly between pop, classic singer-songwriter, soul and even country - a sonic step from her previous release 'We Will Need Courage'.

The opening tracks 'Moment' and 'You Saved My Life' immediately showcase Lauren's vocal ability and attention to detail when it comes to lyrical content & intricate note placement, vocally. Both tracks are uplifting, encouraging and empowering.

'It Was Worth it' delivers its message of 'knowing you cannot numb pain without numbing joy' to excellent effect and although has a commercial pop production, the lyrical content could easily sit within the classic, authenticity of country music. 'What we came here for' and Letting you go' follow this lyrical theme that is empathetic and emotively driven & one that the listener can easily relate to. The musical composition is fuelled by a combination of soul, pop and blues and accompanied by impeccable production.

'Irreplaceable' has been to standout track on the album, picked up by the Daily Telegraph. I have a real soft spot for this song - the lyrical content is encouraging and tells the listener that you can value yourself as an individual and be strong. But, we all need others around us to help lift us up and make us feel 'irreplaceable' when we do find ourselves in situations where we struggle - at the end of the day, we're 'not made of stone'.

'I Decided on You' is described as an unashamedly joyous song about loving someone and letting that guard down, to fully embrace that love. The song that follows 'Worthy' is another ballad but has more distinct country elements that are accompanied by a modern country-pop production. The song was featured on Love Island 2020. Both songs particularly showcase the elegant falsetto in Lauren's voice and the effortless transition due to her vocal range abilities. For me, these two songs take the album up a level and put the album in good stead for an incredible finish.

And Finally, but by no means least, the last two tracks on the album. 'It's not your fault' is a slow, compelling ballad that talks of remembering where you come from in that, there will be situations in life that you cannot control and it's OK to let it go and be strong. This song showcases Lauren's ability to take lyrical concepts and weave them into a beautiful, relatable story that the listener can apply to their lives and be uplifted by, The album comes to an end with 'Something More' - and calm and matter of fact, break-up song, which strips back the production to allow Lauren's voice to shine.

It has been an absolute pleasure to review this album and is definitely up there on one of the best all-round albums that I have listened to in 2020.

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