November 29, 2008 | Author: Greg Phillips

laurajean“Music isn’t about achieving perfection. Well not for me anyway,” Laura Jean told me while sitting in an inner suburban Melbourne cafe.  “It’s about enjoyment and community and expressing joy.” It’s a refreshing and honest credo, which has stood Laura in good stead and helped in the creation of two splendidly crafted albums; 2006’s debut “Our Swan Song’ and the 2008 follow up, ‘Edenland’.

There is an obvious synergy between Laura and her musician friends on the two recordings which comes across in such a warm and delicate way. The subtle arrangements and ideal instrumentation choices sit together so well with her reflective lyrics and considered vocal, that the organic end result is one that’s just meant to be. It’s no surprise that respected artists such as Mia Dyson and Darren Hanlon have asked Laura to assist with upcoming music projects. Her ability to add unique colours and textures to sound is undeniable.

As a teenager, Laura moved from her Gosford home to Lismore where she studied music composition at the Southern Cross University. However she’s reluctant to attribute her time in Lismore to her capacity to produce elegantly intricate music. It was a short, six month stint, with the only benefit being that she met fellow musicians who convinced her to move to Melbourne. For Laura, arts-friendly Melbourne and its amiable musician community was the missing link in her life.
“I have gradually built this community of musicians around me that inspire me,” she explains. ” A lot of my favourite songwriters are my friends. One of the greatest joys to me, of being a musician, is having that kinship with other musicians. Everyone needs community. A  lot of people  miss out on community because they work full time. They go home, turn on the telly. They don’t necessarily like the people they work with. Human beings need community.”

Armed with around 20 songs, Laura wanted to make an album, but wasn’t sure how, deciding instead to begin modestly with an EP, “The Hunter’s Ode’. Then, with one recording experience under her belt, she successfully sought an arts grant to finance the album. With further assistance from underground producer Simon Grounds and musician friend Wally Gunn, the Laura Jean debut album ‘Our Swan Song’ finally materialised. The album was met with some complimentary press and allowed her a platform to build upon, also resulting in some significant support slots with acts such as M Ward, Midlake, Okkervil River and Richard Buckner. She also caught the attention of British pop darlings Snow Patrol who sung her praises publicly.
In seeking further career advice, Laura sent a copy of Our Swan Song to a guy named Neil Robertson. Laura had worked as a volunteer at radio station 3PBS, where she had met Robertson. He had just wound up his longtime management role with successful Scottish act Belle & Sebastian, and Laura looked forward to some valued feedback from Neil on her record. Robertson was so impressed  with the album, that he sent it to friends at prestigious UK label V2, who consequently signed Laura to a deal and arranged finance for album number two, ‘Edenland’.

For Laura Jean, Edenland came together effortlessly. In a purple patch of inspiration, the songs evolved quickly during an ‘escalated’ period of her life. It was a time of great self awareness and sexual awakening. The songs were road tested for a year and then fell into place innately in the studio. The album, which was released in March gained much critical acclaim, particularly from respected scribe Bernard Zuel, who wrote “may well end up with the sobriquet ‘Best Australian album of 2008’.”

As we went to print Laura was wrapping up an east coast tour with her partner Jen Cloher. Next up are gigs at the Meredith and Falls music festivals before demoing new songs for album number three, and then heading overseas in 2009 for her first overseas tour.