LAUREN HOFFMAN is an American experimental rock and lo-fi artist who originally signed with Virgin Records in America and released a debut album “Megiddo” recorded with the help of mentor and friend, the sainted Jeff Buckley who died a month before its release, in 1997.

The singer-songwriter from Charlottesville, Va has now released her fifth album “Family Ghost” recorded with the Secret Storm in January 2017. The Storm includes : guitarist Tony Lechmanski (an old friend from Charlottesville and from goth-band called Bella Morte) cello-violinist Cathy Monnes (of indie-pop Sally Rose Band) bassist Jeff Diehm (formerly of The Last Dance.)

I love how they play,” says Lauren “So the first thing we do is listen to everybody’s ideas about what I’ve written, and try them out…

Though Lauren assembled the “Secret Storm” a few years ago, a handful of Family Ghost songs were written more than a decade back. However, the numbers still seem fresh and urgent.

Supernatural without being disturbing – Family Ghost – Lauren Hoffman & The Secret Storm

We have been listening —

Album opener “Don’t Look Back” has a drag-and-shuffle back-room feel with queasy guitar notes and wrinkled horns.

This puffs and pants like an old man at a school disco … then all hell erupts and we find ourselves in a messy space full of scattered textures. This is supernatural without being disturbing. A bit unorthodox, yet more expressive and eloquent than you first might suppose.

Sick With Love” [below] has a guiltless whine and slow stuttering push. More  jostle than fluster. The vocal performance is astonishing  — total theatre with flickering highs and tumbling lows… Yes, this is technically brilliant and sonically gorgeous— but seems infected by the polluting ruin of love.

The bouncy track “Broken” is effortlessly addictive with a simple latex groove intertwined with opportunistic strings. There are splotches and scrawls in the rhythms but you will concentrate on the mature plum-fruit voice.

This is a fine achievement with an amazing virtuosity and total finesse…

It might be experimental at times but never loses itself in the muddle nore relinquishes its self-assured lure.

A dainty dish for Annie Lennox lovers…

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©

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