A few years ago, singer-songwriter Lara James asked herself a simple but bold question: Why wouldn’t I? She was on the couch watching a reality show on singers and reflecting on her unlived life as a musician. She was asking herself why she didn’t pursue being an artist.
In private moments during her high school years, Lara wrote songs that lived inside her heart and mind as blissful catharsis from the complexities of adolescence. They sounded good to her, but she never shared these secret and sacred little gems. Years went by and life blessed her with a healthy, happy, and wonderful family. She was overjoyed, but there was always songs singing softly within her. And then one day she couldn’t ignore them any longer.
“I had this moment where I believed if I sang, doors would open. I just felt this fate,” the Spokane, Washington-based singer-songwriter confides.
Appropriately, she calls her smoldering debut EP Why Wouldn’t I? (Lara James / EAA). “The title is about the process of making the EP, the idea of ‘Why wouldn’t I got out and do this?,’” she affirms.
Lara’s musicality is focused and pristine, a mix of sensual classic sounds and modern, adult contemporary polish. It’s an aesthetic that calls to mind such artists as Shania Twain, Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones, Miranda Lambert, and Sarah Vaughan. But though it’s an evocative aesthetic, her artistry exudes a naturalness, a grace. “I love those artists,” she says of those she is frequently compared to. “But I just rely on who I am as person to create my music.”
Fate did intervene when Lara went online looking for a voice coach and found an LA-based producer/indie label owner that happened to be in the Spokane area spending time with his family. That was Jake Schaefer, and, in addition to vocal coaching, he became Lara’s creative collaborator, cheerleader, friend, and producer.
Lara entered her music journey bravely. Her second studio session was at famed Capitol Studios singing "I'll Be Home For Christmas" duet style with John Bobek. “I remember there were huge portraits of Sinatra and the Beach Boys, and I got a chance to see the mic Sinatra loved using,” she recalls.
Embracing a new era of fevered creativity, she wrote four new songs for the EP (the fifth song is a cover of Garth Brooks' “The Thunder Rolls”).“I would sing things as I did dishes and laundry, and took the kids to school. I would get a melody in my head and work it out over and over while my kids got tired of hearing it,” she says laughing.
Why Wouldn’t I? introduces a broad array of sensibilities that reflect Lara’s multi-dimensional talents. The breathtaking “Tick Tock” seemingly roils with steamy innuendo like a sultry Patsy Cline track, but is in fact born from far a more innocent sentiment. “That’s about my kids waking me up at 5:30 morning and me wanting to go back to bed, but I hear the clock and know I have to get up!” she says. The haunting ballad “Love Worth Fighting For” valiantly and poetically describes the complexities of marriage. Here she sings: Sometimes it’s hard to rise above the noise, to see past this cloud of pain in my heart/Just when I feel like giving up and letting go, there you are with your arms wide open. And “Why Wouldn’t I” is euphoric pop track that outlines the manifesto that made this all happen.
Thinking back on her timeline as a creative person, Lara says: “I used to be shy and private, but now everything in me wants to run and take this places. I feel like I keep jumping off cliffs, and there is always a lifeline below.”