REVIEW: Laura Sumner — Red Clay Blue Sky (EP)
Red Clay Blue Sky is the debut EP from exciting singer/songwriter Laura Sumner. The EP features the previously released single, “American Man”, a wonderful track reminiscent of the Laurel Canyon sound, as well as four additional songs that reveal joy and heartache from the Connecticut artist. While “American Man” touches upon the lost American Dream, Sumner explores personal relationships and self-growth in the other tracks. Growing up with different zip codes and being a bit of a sojourner, Sumner’s songs are like stamps in a passport. The listener feels as though they, too, are visiting these memories.
The EP’s title, according to the press materials, comes from the bridge section of the third song, “Telling Georgia Goodbye”. Sumner sings, over the borderline where the red clay ends, the sand begins, under the Spanish moss a newborn cross. While this song is about the death of her grandfather, the words can also lead one to believe it’s about leaving and never looking back. The idea of closing one door and opening another really set in with me for a while after listening to this song. Her powerful words (and very descriptive I may add) were prime time ready in this track. All the songs have exceptional lyrics, but I really found myself enamored with this one. The peacefulness of the music bed made the song all the more enjoyable.
The other songs on the EP are “Cowboy From Queens”, a dashing folksy-rock tune that focuses on a past relationship; “Tides”, a moving song about another love that has ended. I was intrigued by the music. I think the sonic palette Sumner paints definitely mirrors the ocean, but perhaps the ocean in the evening or sunset. It feels as though she’s trying to wash away a relationship. She’s happy she’s experiencing it, but it’s definitely over. And, “My Mother And Me”.
This last song is a bit of a dark horse. On first listen, you might think it’s really tender and loving. As the listens increase, so does this idea of a relationship that felt severed and changed. It’s quite sad, really. I appreciated that Sumner explores this kind of emotion. It was quite unexpected. I think when you peel back the layers to this last song it’s just as impactful as the story in “American Man”. While “American Man” has that more folk turn, “My Mother And Me” is enriched in more adult contemporary tones. Both, though, drench the listener into a fantastic bath of excellent songwriting.
Red Clay Blue Sky triumphs because it explores different subjects, different relationships. I think Sumner is at her best in all of the tracks, and one would be hard pressed to note the best track of ’em all. I definitely enjoyed “Telling Georgia Goodbye” but I think listeners should really first start with “American Man” (which makes the most sense since it was her lead single), and then maybe drop into “Tides”. Really, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these songs. Sumner really has a bright future ahead!