Lauren Mann brings her fairly odd fold to Moncton

Despite their moniker perhaps saying otherwise, there is certainly nothing odd about Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk.

Fronting an infectious blend of folk and pop, Mann’s powerful vocals dominate the fun, inviting music, evoking comparisons to modern singers such as Neko Case or Kathleen Edwards. And with any luck, it won’t be long before Lauren Mann finds the critical and commercial acclaim of both of those artists.

Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk will perform at Moncton’s Plan B Lounge tonight. The show starts at 9 p.m.

Speaking from a tour stop in Kenora, Ontario, Mann recalls growing up listening to contemporary Christian music. She says that despite her parents not being especially big fans of music, they certainly harboured nothing against it. In fact, she credits her parents for enrolling her in piano lessons when she was five years old.

“That is really what started my love of music,” Mann says. “As I got deeper into learning about music, I wanted to learn more and see myself branch out from classical music to jazz. It was interesting, however, because my music teacher said that having a foundation in classical music would serve me well no matter what style of music I decided to pursue. It had essentially enabled me to play melodies, chords and have a foundation of theory that I might not have had otherwise. It was a big transition for me, one that took a lot of time and practice but I eventually got to where I wanted to be.”

Once Mann began writing her own songs, taking them to the various concert stages of Calgary was inevitable. Before long, Mann found herself performing in venues including house concerts, cafes and all-ages shows throughout the city. In 2009, Mann released two EPs, selling the releases at her live shows; 2010 marked the release of Stories From Home, a compilation of the two previously released EPs along with three previously unreleased songs.

Mann’s first tour across Canada in 2010 was an ambitious one to say the least, comprised of 65 days from coast to coast that eventually saw her touch down in every province. After undertaking an additional two Cross-Canada tours that same year, Mann found herself jetting overseas for a three-week tour of Denmark. By the time that 2010 had wrapped up, Mann had astonishingly played more than 200 shows.

“I never thought that playing music full-time would be an option,” she says. “I never felt as though I really had the business knowledge necessary to book and organize tour schedules so I just kind of pushed the thought away. After I was married, I thought even less of it. I simply figured that it would be time to settle down and not really think about pursuing that anymore. But my husband had some experience in managing bands and booking tours and since he is the dreamer of the two of us, it was actually him that suggested that we pursue music full-time. It is not always an easy thing but it is very much worth it at the end of the day.”

This coming May, Mann will release her next full-length effort, tentatively titled Over Land and Sea. Recorded in Florida with Aaron Marsh, formerly of the band Copeland, working with Marsh was a dream come true in many ways for Mann.

“Aaron’s band, Copeland, was a big influence on me and it was extremely cool to have the opportunity to work with someone that I had looked up to for so long.”

Asked what Marsh specifically brought to the making of Over Land and Sea, Mann says that it was more about getting her and her band mates out of their comfort zones than fiddling too much with song arrangements.

“Working with Aaron helped broaden my horizons in terms of how I viewed recording and music in general,” she says. “When we went into the studio, many of the tracks contained only piano and vocals and we would work to build the song up from there. While he suggested adding specific instrumentation to some of the songs, he ultimately wanted to simply bring out the potential in each of these songs. We were in the studio for seven weeks with him and poured all of our energy into it. It was a great space to be in.”

Article published in February 29, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript