Lara Eidi is one of life’s polymaths. Known for her genre-bending style and captivating presence, she describes herself as a jazz/folk/vocalist/songwriter/pianist/educator/workshop leader. She created the songwriting podcast ‘The Notes Between’ and was a founder of the educational music platform Phonica Music Coaching.
As if this is not enough she is also a sought-after vocal teacher. Lara was born to Lebanese-Canadian parents and later moved to London, so from the start has a multi-cultural background. She is a multi-instrumentalist and has been described by Jazz UK as, “a singer with true gift of voice, a kind soul and captivating presence”. She gained her MMus from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Lara is also an accomplished writer with a degree in English Literature. She is Jazz Editor and Senior Contributor for Webzine ‘Backseat Mafia’ (UK) and a contributor to several other magazines and columns where she brings her expertise and experience writing about many issues and genres. She has taught as Principal Singing Teacher and Workshop Leader for City Academy, Hackney Community Choir, Songlines Choir, Leeds Conservatoire, and more as well as individual and workshop-led sessions for aspiring to experienced singers, and songwriters.
Now, Eidi has released her long awaited album ‘Sun’ on Pastiche Records.
The album weaves the threads of her folk, acoustic rock, and jazz-classical upbringing with her heartfelt message of hope, empowerment, and freedom.
The success of the album’s single, ’Breathe Love’ bodes well for the album. With its genre-defying sound and heartfelt lyrics, ‘Breathe Love’ is a testament to Eidi’s artistic vision and a true mirror of the album ‘Sun’. Lara is a modern-day troubadour who has seen recognition for her distinct voice, presence, and hard work. The album came about during and post-pandemic – a time of profound change.
About ‘Sun’, Lara says, “I had spent so long in the hustle and beautifully chaotic London, building my career, gaining momentum, performing, the works, but I had started to lose sight of my ‘voice’. What was it that I wanted to say, now, as a changed person? I went through three heavy life-altering years, that had weighed on my heart and soul – so obviously, aside from being a haven for creating, I decided to do something that felt like a bold choice. I looked to the past to re-create what I had lost: old songs that were never released (‘Forgive’, ‘Tide’, ‘Sun’), newer ones that weren’t finished (‘Damien’, ‘Hang On’) and, because I had more to say, I wrote a few new ones (‘Hello’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Breathe Love’, and ‘Maybe Then’). I wanted to give the whole picture; raw, truthful, beautiful, and embodying the layered emotions I was feeling daily. The sound of these songs was huge – full of rich layers and textures that came alive and felt like a burst of energy I had kept hidden from the world.
That’s when I realized that it was time for an album and ‘Sun’ was born. Now, I just needed the musicians. Not knowing anyone in Athens (where she was then), apart from a few trusty bandmates, I went out and saw loads of gigs. Slowly but surely, I pulled together some of Athen’s most amazing musicians from the folk, classical, and jazz worlds. I put them in the same room, gave them the music which I had worked tirelessly with my friend and producer, Giotis, and said, “Let’s just play through everything and see what happens”.
I was filled with a sense of overwhelming joy: they had learned the music by heart. This isn’t common, especially in a city where music is underappreciated. A month later we hit the studio (Syn Ena Recording), recording the rhythm section first, myself on piano and guitar with Petros Fatis on drums, and Harrys Pandazsi on bass. Next up, the magical strings of the Lagom Quartet– with my trustee friend and co-arranger Stavros Parginos. Finally, it was time for the vocals.
I knew I had to make the most of those sessions, so I went home and re-wrote the most intricate and complex harmonies, imagining for a moment I was back in London and had ten singers in the same room. As I recorded each vocal line, I felt a slow, almost spiritual release of music and stories I had lived with for a long time come to life.”
The album is a glorious celebration of life’s events, the highs and lows, the times we feel despair and the times we feel deeply, surely, loved.
The album is well worth having in your collection. From the uplifting ‘Breathe Love’ with sweeping strings provided by Catherine Pepelena and Tasos Gousetis on violins and Eirini Anastasiou on ‘cello and the welling strength of the arrangement, we are given a sense of freedom, of letting go and just breathing – to the gorgeous folksiness of ‘Tide’ where we see the journey through life from the eyes of a young person seeking the empowerment of release. The vocal harmonies on this track are challenging but create a richly textured tapestry of sound, over which the story of a young woman transiting to womanhood is revealed. ‘Hello Gravity’ is about facing challenges and our inner demons, while the bluesy, energy-laden ‘Damien’ is about dealing with someone who is not who he seems, and the reflective middle section gives time to contemplate. ‘Hang On’ is about listening to your own voice in the confusion of life, with a clever hook in the words ‘Hang On’ and features an eloquent piano solo from Eidi.
‘Forgive’ is a beast of a number, with rolling piano lines, a terrific bass back line in the middle section, and vocals that excel. The track switches time patterns and melodic phrases intertwine with thunking piano chords contrasting with the and sweet vocalization. ‘Sun’ is about trying to understand love and its complexities – wanting to love and feel love but somehow never quite achieving this – a factor characterized by the changing nature of the chordal progressions and intricate lines of the arrangements. The final track is about taking a chance, a risk, and then not doing this but playing safe, until that time when it happens – you feel ready for love.
The arrangements on this album are clever and showcase the instrumentalists as well as Eidi as a performer – it is a coming-of-age recording and Eidi seems destined to become a much-enjoyed fixture on the UK scene. Her voice embodies a combination of folk, jazz, classical, and, at times, distinctly bluesy delivery that Eidi makes feel effortless. The album is clearly a heartfelt exposition of Eidi’s heart.
Before the album was finished, Eidi wrote something profound, that summed up each track, and she wanted to share. She was facing nearly crippling anxiety and a fear that she wouldn’t be able to turn to the one thing that kept her going. She wrote,
“Even on the darkest of days, there is always Sun. I like to believe that on the hardest of days, I can breathe love into the world. I can feel the sun, touch down and converse with gravity. I can choose to let go and forgive, and I can choose to ride the tide as it comes and get ready for the unexpected wave. After all, all we can do really is hang on, forgetting the Damiens of this world. Maybe then, when I’ve embraced it all, maybe then everything will turn out fine. Maybe then, we’ll find the Sun, within”’
Special thanks to Lara Eidi for addition words.