Album Review: Lari White - “New Loves/Old Friends”

One of country’s most-versatile (and underrated) vocalists returns with album that is a show-stopping tour-de-force.

When a music artist “ages” past the mainstream, is their artistic career then over? If the artist is like Lari White, the answer is absolutely not. Instead of going away, Lari has come alive with New Loves/Old Friends as she is unencumbered with the need to create music for mainstream tastes. That allows her to explore her diverse musical tastes where 70s pop, blues, soul and more take over.

“Maybe It’s Love,” From the New Loves EP side rivals the best songs from Carole King or The Carpenter’s catalog with a pristine vocal delivery from Lari White while “Kisses And Wine” is a sultry emotive ballad. Lari uses gospel-like storytelling with her cover of Tracy Nelson’s “Down So Low,” to showcase a stripped-down performance that rivals anything from Bonnie Raitt’s catalog while opener “Who’s to Blame” is as jazzy as anything from the great soul singers of the past or present. Speaking of Jazz, “Champagne” is a closer to the New Loves portions of the double EP collection and it recalls k.d. lang and Diana Krall with a mood-filled three piece piano-bass-drums combo where the music accents the powerful vocals from Lari.

For the Old Friends EP, Lari delivers 8 of her most-beloved songs and turns in startling and strong new takes on the classic hits from her 1990s and beyond country catalog including takes on “Wishes,” “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know” and “Lead Me Not” among them. A sterling collection of collaborators including Suzy Bogguss, Dan Dugmore, Charlie Worsham, Austin Hoke, Shawn Ficter, Sara Buxton, Tom Bukovac and Chuck Cannon (Lari’s husband) are featured throughout the project. Two of the album’s standout tracks (one from each disc/side) are the ethereal “Moonshine” and project closer “Bare.”

Throughout the New Loves/Old Friends, Lari White gives us reason to believe in classic storytelling and songwriting and makes a case that we should get to hear more of this brilliant kind of music somewhere and while it may not be ‘cool’ as mainstream goes, Lari White makes it a brilliant listening experience which is all anyone can ever ask for.