Monday 5 June 2023

'No Love No Peace' by Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love

'No Love No Peace' marks the brand new release from Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love available through the always excellent Q-Sounds Recording.

The connection between Llorens and Q-Sounds has led to some fantastic results over the years - having initially released three solo albums in 'The Giving Tree' (2010), 'On the Way' (2013) and 'Digging Deeper' (2016), it was their union for the album 'Home / Chez Moi' that brought the singer/songwriter to more eyes.  Partnering with The Shadows of Love, their debut project for the label in 2020 led to some incredible music that showcased Llorens' powerhouse vocal and has since led to Llorens as a shining light for Q-Sounds.

Initially raised in Lake Michigan, Llorens' affections for the French culture and lifestyle saw her relocate to Paris where she has since called home over the last twenty years.  But wherever Llorens would eventually settle, being able to reach an audience through such an immense level of talent was always destined to be in her future.  'Home / Chez Moi', for example, proved to be the perfect showcase for everything that Llorens brings to the table - a captivating presence, sincere songwriting that bursts with personality and a voice as adept at commanding a dance floor as much as sweetly serenading a loved one.

Three years later, we now have the successor to that record in 'No Love No Peace' which is a compelling follow-up and finds Llorens embracing new ideas and concepts for her music.

There's something about 'No Love No Peace' as a project that places it hand-in-hand with another somewhat recent Q-Sounds release in 'Music For Riots Revolutions & Showdowns'.  Helmed by the illusive Rob D. Vulosic, both projects continue in the vein of asking soul music's  quintessential question about our evolving political and social climates... "What's going on?"  A question posed by Marvin Gaye in 1971, posed by many others since but it does seem to be the question that we are forever destined to ponder.  And while Q-Sounds are a phenomenal contemporary label with a series of artists and releases that celebrate the unbridled joy in love, good times, music and nostalgia, they are also a label that understand the weight of responsibility in continuing to keep that question prevalent in peoples' minds.

And it's a question that Q-Sounds have proved very effective at relaying over the years.

Laura Llorens - much like Vulosic before her - finds her focus by addressing matters that impact us all as individuals and as a global community - the last few years have presented everyone with an inconceivable amount of challenges that have sought to divide us politically, racially and environmentally; a worldwide pandemic ground everyday life to a screeching halt; the continual threat of war looms over us... it can all often feel more than we are equipped to handle and 'No Love No Peace' finds inspired ways to convey and connect with that level of restlessness and unease.

The music throughout 'No Love No Peace' finds Llorens & The Shadows of Love further plunging their authentic sound within the 1970s with tracks paying homage to the variety of styles attributed to the era - the gritty funk of 'Deep Fried Butter', the Blaxploitation aesthetic of the powerful 'BLM' opener, the rousing 'Time Is All' or the sweet soul of 'Magic Love'.  Of course special mention is due to the Curtis Mayfield-esque 'Loving You' which really delivers as the album's high point - the sensational number relishes in its lengthy instrumental opener and really accentuates the band's stellar performance throughout the album.  And then Laura Llorens ushers in mid-way through the near-five-minute gem to elevate the track into one of the best you're likely to hear all year.

'Emptiness After' delivers as the perfect album closer.  "It's the emptiness after, the eye of the storm; it's the fall of the dust to the ground, reset all to silence."  It's the track that encapsulates everything amazing about this album and the epic journey it has narrated throughout the nine songs to get to this point.  We've been privy to Llorens as she marvels at love, addresses her own fears and insecurities, rallied against injustice and lamented over love lost.  But then we receive the song's final sentiment: "The feeling of wholeness is what keeps me alive" which ultimately serves as Lloren's revelatory moment - the very distinction between merely surviving and living lies in the unwavering truth that is... Know Love, Know Peace.

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