Material: Laura Michelle's nine-song set list featured a diversity of influences. “Chameleon,” the sixth song of the night, began with a retro synth line reminiscent of the soundtrack to Netflix’s Stranger Things, whereas fourth song, “Save Me,” was a more conventional pop ballad, heavy on emotion and anchored by string accompaniment. Sometimes Michelle rocked out, like in opening track “Cigarette,” which included the attitudinal refrain “I’m gonna put you out like a cigarette.” Given that the artist’s pop star exterior is decidedly safe, the musical diversity on display helped make for a fun and varied performance.
Musicianship: In order to do justice to the range of sounds from song to song, Michelle’s band had to wear many hats, whether playing upbeat power chords on breakout hit “Chuck Norris,” or supplying melancholic piano accompaniment to title track “Novel With No End,” written in memory of her late father. Michelle’s vocals were powerful, and suitably guided the performance. Each song felt well rehearsed, and the band looked completely at ease playing with one another.
Performance: As a lead singer, Michelle fronted her band with equal amounts of charisma and nervous energy. For example, Michelle did a stage move she described as her “slow-mo thing,” which she then explained her band would make fun of her for doing. This and other moments felt both genuinely human and calculatedly confident. A certain amount of atypical-ness has become par for the course for pop singers, and Michelle seems to have naturally found her schtick in awkward relatability.
Summary: At certain points, Laura Michelle's material can sound more like musical theater than pop music, but she peppers her songs with enough flavor to keep them interesting. She’s a Disney princess with just a dash of vindictiveness, like in her closing track, about people with an inflated ego.
Success as a pop star depends on immense success, and Michelle is part of the way there, having had a viral hit with the “Chuck Norris” video. Her natural stage finesse could very well take her the rest of the way.
The Players: Laura Michelle, vocals; Al Berry, bass; Jim McGorman, guitar; Marc Slutsky, drums; Steve Fekete, guitar; Steve Ferlazzo, keys.
Photo by Sam Skopp
Venue: The El Rey Theater
City: Los Angeles, CA
Looking to get your music reviewed in the magazine? Click HERE!