The first thing you notice is that voice: deep and rich and warm, gorgeous, graceful, and somehow earthy and ethereal at once. It is an instrument perfectly pitched and primed to each line, with each audible breath. Just as warm and familiar and frankly right as the needle hitting the groove on vinyl.
And so it goes. In describing the vocal talents of Eugene-based singer/songwriter Halie Loren, the adjectives just start piling up. Heartfelt is one. Confident yet vulnerable, strong but inviting. Authentic is another adjective that rushes to mind—emotionally authentic, which, really, is the key to great jazz and great art in general. Not the play-it-safe jazz of Kenny G or the narcoleptic whispers of mall-bound Musak, but the real deal. Think Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday and Joni Mitchell, or, more recently, Diana Krall, Norah Jones. But such comparisons are only historic reference points, a means of entry. What’s important to understand is that when Halie Loren sings, you not only hear the music. You feel it. She’s right there, in the room with you, filling the space with intimate stories of love and heartbreak, memory and hope, experience and passion—in a word, life.
Were Loren’s resume to end here, with her vocal talents, it would be more than enough. Singing of that quality is rare, a gift. But Loren is no mere interpreter of standards (though she does that with refreshing facility). Having cut her songwriting teeth when, as a teenager, she spent an educational year rubbing elbows with some of Nashville’s top composers, this young artist—she is but 25—has penned original numbers that are stunning for the depth and maturity the show. Take, for instance, the title song from her 2008 release, They Oughta Write a Song: in a bittersweet croon that is equal parts hurt and healing, Loren delivers lines like, “If there were prizes for those sighs of regret/you’d be the envy of the oh-woe-is-me set/romance is through/it’s just the piper and you…”