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YouTube musical phenomenons are commonplace these days. You could spend all day in front of your computer being wowed by kids with genius talent, seemingly getting younger and more amazing all the time. However, there is a difference—a big difference—between being a YouTube star and playing in a band. When recording a video for YouTube, you can do endless retakes and edits, and there’s no anxiety about performing in front of an audience. Playing in a band is much more demanding, and not so forgiving. 

Guitarist and vocalist Laura Cox is a French musician who started her music career posting YouTube videos of cover songs and guitar solos in 2008. In 2013 she formed a band, and for her third album she teamed up with with Mathieu Albiac/guitar, Adrien Kah/bass, Germain Destremon/keyboards and Antonin Guerin/drums.  That album is titled Head Above Water. 

The record is a mix of straight-ahead rock, blues and most surprising and delightful, Americana/roots music. The title track (and first song on the album) is a straight ahead melodic hard rocker with plenty of guitar solos for listeners who love guitar fireworks. Same for the next three, So Long, One Big Mess and Set Me Free. Old Soul shifts in a completely different direction. It opens with a lazy slide guitar riff over a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and then adds a banjo in the chorus. Cox may be French, but this song sounds like it was written in a backwoods cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. 

Before We Get Burned and Seaside continues with the acoustic guitar and banjo combination. Fever and Swing It Out return with the melodic hard rock format. The final song on the album is Glassy Day. Cox once again breaks out her slide guitar and banjo, and those instruments, combined with her soulful vocals…well, close your eyes and you could easily imagine lazily floating down the Mississippi River in Louisiana bayou country. All said, Head Above Water is a five-star effort from a superbly talented musician and her friends.

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