Laura Love

All we need

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sometimes, when life becomes overwhelming or I just need a change of scenery, I take to the road and explore Washington’s many nooks and crannies. Occasionally, I go to the coast to eat chowder and gaze upon the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, but more often then not I head east. When I do, I’m always drawn to Okanogan County and its out-of-the-way, salt-of-the-earth charms.

Over the years, I’ve endured much ridicule for my love of the Twisp/Tonasket/Omak area, but just recently I discovered that I’m in very good company. Turns out, that none other than musician Laura Love has made her home in Twisp for the past decade or more.

Before we go east, we must first travel back in time. When Love last appeared on my personal musical radar, she was an electrifying and eclectic part of Seattle’s music scene, a bass-playing singer whose Afro-Celtic sound and socially conscious messaging was earning her accolades, audiences and the kind of devoted fan base about which an indie artist can only dream. From a brutally difficult childhood with a schizophrenic mother and absent father, Love, exhibiting the enormous will that has becoming one of her defining characteristics, grew into an artist who played Carnegie Hall, landed on Billboard magazine’s list of the country’s 10 best unsigned acts, and then got signed to Mercury Records.

At the time, it seemed like everyone was falling in love with Love.

Not every romance is destined for a storybook ending, however. After years of recording and touring and giving herself fully to the intense grind that is a career in music, Love decided to opt out. With little fanfare, she went on a hiatus of undetermined length and headed to Twisp, to raise her child, grow her own food, live off the land and create for herself a smaller, more manageable, healthier existence.

It worked for a time, but life had other plans for Love.

In 2015, Love survived a brutal physical assault that left her reeling. As part of her recovery, she began to play music again, even going on a short West Coast tour where she debuted two new songs. Just as she got her feet back underneath her, the ground crumbled again when Love’s sister Lisa committed suicide. Love has referred to the two years that encompassed the events as the “hardest of my adult life.”

But along with the pain came the desire to honor her sister the best way Love knew how: with music. Shortly after Lisa’s suicide, Love began to write songs about her and about their relationship. Once she began writing what she termed her “sad songs,” she didn’t stop until she had a whole album’s worth, which she titled She Loved Red in tribute to her sister. The highly personal effort is the musician’s first release in nearly a decade and she’s emerging from the wilds of Okanogan County to bring it to us. When Love last performed in Bellingham, she was at the height of her popularity and her contingent of local fans was large and loyal. I’m guessing many of those same followers will be in the audience when she plays a Sat., Feb. 10 concert at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. Because no matter how much time has passed and how much has changed, one thing remains the same: All we need is Love.

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