'This year's sweetest surprise was hearing Laura's songs. They are quite wonderful. Give a listen.' --Bryan Bowers 'Laura's lyrics make me stop and think, her tunes make me want to sing along on every song, and her voice is simply lovely' --Joe Offer, The Mudcat Cafe REVIEW FROM THE FOLKNIK, SPRING 2006 by Mark Cohen I have a very difficult time picking my "favorite" things. I don't have a favorite food, or color, or place to go on vacation. So when my daughter asked me to name my favorite song on Laura Sandage's new CD, "Bloom," it didn't surprise me that I could not come up with an answer. However, if you sat me down under a bright light and forced me to choose my favorite album by a contemporary songwriter, there's a very good chance it would be "Bloom." This album is gorgeous, both musically and visually. Every song brings new delights to the ear, the arrangements are rich and clean, the audio production is superb. Even the packaging is enchanting, with lyrics (I always appreciate lyric sheets) and exquisite photographs sharing a beautifully-designed booklet. All 14 songs on the album were written by Laura. Three were co-written with Davis neighbor and longtime Bay Area musical guru, Ray Frank. Ray and Katie Henry add their voices to Laura's on several cuts, previewing the work of their new trio, MudLark. Priscilla Hawkins contributes a fine cello line on four songs, and a raft of other fine musicians and vocalists visit as well. Though all the songs have the earmarks of Laura's strong lyricism and fine musical sense, they exhibit a wide and satisfying breadth of style, from silly ("Crushed") to stirring ("Do You Want Peace?") to somber ("Marlboro Man") to sensual ("February is Green"). All but three of the songs on this album were written in 2004, and one in 2005, which suggests that Laura's songwriting star is still in the ascendant. But don't wait for the next one to come along-"Bloom" is stellar, and you can enjoy it right now. LAURA SANDAGE: BIO Born in Iowa, raised in California, Laura grew up with a mother who played Scott Joplin on the piano and show tunes on the cello and a father who sang her to sleep with haunting folk songs like Go Tell Aunt Rhody. At age 14, she wrote advertising jingles and pop songs for fun, while teachers encouraged her to study classical voice. She earned a B.M. in voice performance at the UOP Conservatory of Music in Stockton, then married a charming East Indian pharmacist and went on to graduate studies in French Literature and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. Before the dissertation was complete, babies came along to snap her out of her academic groove. While caring for her two daughters, she wrote poetry and humor, performed and painted faces at birthday parties, taught drama and improv classes for kids and adults, led creative writing groups, studied hypnosis and meditation, and eventually found her way back to songwriting at age 37. In songwriting, she can make use of anything she has ever done or been or wished to be. She is thrilled to be settled in Davis, California, singing and playing string bass with musical collaborators who live just down the street. The trio MudLark was born during work on her solo CD, Bloom, and includes Alaskan-born singer, songwriter, and banjo mistress Katie Henry and guitarist/singer/folk savant Ray Frank, originally from the Bronx. Together, they are creating powerful new work that is refreshingly original while deeply rooted in American musical tradition.