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LISA LARUE

Crossover Prog • United States


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Lisa LaRue biography
Influenced by the likes of ELP, Yes, Genesis, Gong and Kansas, keyboardist Lisa LaRue has been playing progressive music for many years. After collaborating with Gilli Smith of Gong on a release called Dreamscapes she embarked on a solo attempt of signing up to a record label. This she successfully did with SOAR (Sound Of America Records). Her debut release is called Beloved Tribal Women

She has also worked with Will Alexander of ELP, Herbie Hancock fame on side projects such as 2K9 and most recently 2KX.Lisa LaRue grew up in Topeka, Kansas, but now resides in her native Oklahoma. She is a tribal member of the federally-recognized United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. She is the 2008 Oklahoma Music Awards' Native American Artist of the Year, and a 2008 nominee for the Hollywood Music Awards' Instrumental category.

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Fast and Blue - DVDFast and Blue - DVD
2011
DVD$19.95
Transformation 2012Transformation 2012
Fingerwoven 2009
Audio CD$11.98
$11.97 (used)
The Lisa LaRue CollectionThe Lisa LaRue Collection
Fingerwoven 2012
Audio CD$12.95
That Ol' Sofkee SpoonThat Ol' Sofkee Spoon
2004
Audio CD$15.04

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LISA LARUE discography


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LISA LARUE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Beloved Tribal Women
1994
1.00 | 1 ratings
That Ol' Sofkee Spoon
2002
2.90 | 2 ratings
Transformation 2012
2009
2.91 | 3 ratings
Project 2K9: World Class
2009
3.82 | 19 ratings
Fast And Blue
2011

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LISA LARUE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Transformation 2012 by LARUE, LISA album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.90 | 2 ratings

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Transformation 2012
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars As a child female musician Lisa LaRue, born in 1962 in Oklahoma, was taught to play the keyboards and at the start of her career she even collaborated with Gong's Gilli Smyth on the cassette "Dreamscapes".Influenced by the likes of Genesis, Kansas, E.L.P. and Yes, she begun writing her own material and started releasing albums since the early-90's, most of them having limited promotion.As stated by Lisa, she spent a fair amount of her savings on lifting her carrer, beginning with the ''Transformation 2012'', released in 2008 and featuring Asia's singer John Payne, Classical-trained violinist James Sudakow, keyboardist Tommy Zvoncheck and singer Marc Nelson along with Andy Livesay and Kerri Lake on flutes.

This release met a wider recognition, being a concept album around Maya's prophecy around a new world state occuring in 2012, with Payne providing all spoken parts of the album on his own unique voice.Musically the album is strongly influenced by the monsters of keyboard-driven Progressive Rock like E.L.P. and RICK WAKEMAN along with strong KANSAS vibes here and there, while there is a certain similarity in the result with the works of ERIK NORLANDER, GERARD or DON AIREY.The main problem seems to be an evident inconsistency throughout, where excellent symphonic-oriented ideas mostly in an instrumental approach, are blended with questionable parts like long drum solos or even a few chessy synth passages of little interest.Focusing on the bright side of the album, these passages range from simply decent to even masterful.The strong armour of LaRue, including synthesizers, piano and Hammond or church organs, allows here to travel around different moods and soundscapes.From flashy and intense arrangements to vintage, virtuosic runs with a 70's feel and from grandiose church organ intros to light and sensitive piano themes.Combined with the decent work on violin and flutes, the instrumental work as offered is often excellent with lots of variations and tight performances.The overall approach is mostly symphonic, but there are occasional parts resembling more to Neo Prog or A.O.R/Pomp Rock, fortunately even these contain some nice melodic ideas.

I should say Lisa didn't spend her money for nothing.This is a well-crafted work with big time instrumental magic at moments, that deserves a wide spread.Warmly recommended.

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 Fast And Blue by LARUE, LISA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.82 | 19 ratings

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Fast And Blue
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is actually my first experience with a Lisa LaRue project, and I say this because I know she has been involved in the progressive rock scene for several years, with different projects and with a considerable amount of records. Now after some reviews I read, I got interested with her 2KX project and the album entitled "Fast and Blue", composed by LaRue, along with Steve Adams, Merrill Hale and John Payne.

The album comprises seven compositions, two of them epic tracks. It is an almost instrumental album, full of keyboards, wonderful and well-crafted compositions. It opens with "Mystery of the Rose" which is a one-minute introductory track with a peaceful and hopeful sound. It leads to "Prometheus", which in the other hand, is the longest composition of the album, with seventeen minutes of true and first-class progressive rock.

The first part has some inherent drama, I imagine it as a passage of a movie, with some tension and an unknown fate. Later it slows down, soft guitars and drums, nice bass notes, and great keyboard nuances. The song seems to be divided in several passages, showing the band's compositional skills. I like the bombastic moments where several elements are added, with great guitar riffs and the always prominent keyboards that creates a symphonic sound.

When drums, a bell and then a gong sounds, the tone changes dramatically and becomes much more bombastic. I am almost sure that in this part Ryo Okumoto enters with his keyboard feast. Along with the keys, the other instruments perfectly complement the music, which now show the quality of the musicians as performers, because each and every of them are well connected and flawlessly playing. This is a long, complex and well arranged symphonic offering that Lisa LaRue's 2KX share to us, and which can be appreciated and loved by the strictest prog fan.

"Tryptych" starts with a mellower sound, charming acoustic guitar and a cute cello creating a gentle atmosphere. I love how after the storm comes the calm, because this track allows us to take a breath after that vertiginous previous epic. This shorter piece fills our souls with a beautiful sound, that's it. But it leads to the other long track, which is entitled "Jam Jehan Nima"; this track begins with a more eclectic sound, with elements taken from different parts and genres, here the symphonic touch is not really present, instead, we can appreciate some mid-east hints, along with soft spacey keys, and even some jazzy moments. After four minutes, vocals appear as a choral group and create a dark and church-like sound. A minute later it vanishes and a new structure is being built, now with a more aggressive feeling, creating either a heavy prog, or even a symphonic metal-like sound. In this song, I prefer by miles the second part, honestly, I did not really enjoy the first one.

"Lament of the Cherokee / Ruins of Home" has once again cello and a soft beginning. The atmosphere and background are perfect for a fantasy film. A minute later a narrator appears with a strong voice, while keyboards and the other instruments continue creating that background. As he speaks, we can imagine what he says, even close our eyes and create our own story. The voice vanishes before the third minute and then a new structure is being built up. Here I like a lot the work of the drummer, giving the correct intensity in every passage. The last two minutes are great, once again, adding elements that let us create some images in our minds.

"Fast and Blue" has a clear symphonic prog sound since the first moments, but later it changes when Payne's vocals appear first, later joined by a female voice. There are some nice bass lines during the whole track, a song that I may label as a prog metal one, though the music is actually far from it.

The album finishes with "Recurring Dream" which has an instrumental beginning with some pastoral passages, but later when vocals join it changes a little bit, both the music and the feelings change as well. Later at minute four there is a wonderful moment with mellotron and beautiful and softly played strings. This is a very good ending track.

A strong, well-composed album that will please symphonic rock (mainly) fans, but which can be also loved by the average prog rock follower. Recommendable!

Enjoy it!

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 Fast And Blue by LARUE, LISA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.82 | 19 ratings

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Fast And Blue
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Fast And Blue' - Lisa LaRue 2KX (7/10)

If someone had first told me about the work of Lisa LaRue and her place as a 'virtuoso prog keyboardist', I would have likely not checked out this album. It is certainly not that I have a problem with highly skilled musicians, but whenever the words 'solo' and 'virtuoso' come up, I get the aching feeling that this will be more an ordeal of feeding the artist's ego through incessant scale worship and technical wizardry, rather than the more musical and tasteful elements that first attract me to certain types of music. Thankfully, I had no preconceptions of who Lisa LaRue was before listening to this, because as far as her latest album 'Fast And Blue' indicates, 'solo' and 'virtuoso' aren't words in the vocabulary. Instead, what we have here is an hour or so of band-oriented, eclectic prog rock, drawing from a range of sources and coming together into a longwinded span of varied sounds and mature composition.

The music on 'Fast And Blue' never focuses on the technical skills of the artist as I may have thought, but rather the tasteful arrangements of a number of musicians. If one was listening to the album without any idea of what it was, it could even be concluded that 'Fast And Blue' was the work of a guitar-oriented band, rather than the brainchild of a keyboardist. This is mostly instrumental music that leans towards the mellow side of prog rock, and best represented with the eighteen minute instrumental 'epic' 'Prometheus', the music is pleasant and emotional, with the talents of the musicians coming through in the slight ways they change the tone and dynamic as the track goes on. As I have said, the music here is surprisingly led mostly by the guitars, although LaRue's Wakeman-esque solos come in once in a while. Keeping in suit with the vibe of the rest of the album, most of it revolves around melody, rather than the flaunting of her skill, which is obvious enough without her necessarily having to show it off outright. Ironically though, some of the most exciting moments of this album are when she really lets loose her talent, and takes the keyboard for a frantic spin.

For it being a mostly instrumental record, Lisa LaRue's 'Fast And Blue' is a surprisingly tasteful record, with plenty of mellowness and well-thought melodies to send it going strong, although there is the occasional throwback to ELP-like climaxes to balance out the less eventful sections. Lisa LaRue was certainly trying to recreate the glory of the 70's prog rock with this one, as so many in today's progressive music scene have tried to do. While the sound is definitely emulated well enough, there is not quite enough that LaRue adds to this formula. The songwriting is quite well done, although no track here leaps out as being particularly memorable. Also, the addition of vocals on the later half of the album feels a little jarring. There are a number of vocalists that participate on this record, and while none are particularly bad, there is not one moment where the vocals feel as if they contribute anything vital to the sound; 'Fast And Blue' would have almost certainly have had a greater impact, had it been kept purely instrumental.

This 70's throwback thing is not my thing, and never was, but it is impossible to deny the skill and talent that Lisa LaRue has both in terms of playing, and arranging such an eclectic piece of music. We have folkier sounds here, 70's symphonic prog blowouts, jazzier moments, and classical sounds. A very good album from this talented artist, and for what it lacks in cohesion and identity, it makes up in variety and feeling.

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 Fast And Blue by LARUE, LISA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.82 | 19 ratings

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Fast And Blue
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Who intends to record a perfect progressive rock album unquestionably comes close to some prog paragons sooner or later. Okay, reminiscences occur here and there, however 'Fast And Blue' still leaves me amazed because of its uniqueness as a matter of fact. This is my first attempt with Lisa LaRue's projects and now I can say, it's definitely worth it to have a listen. Although the band is headed by her, this only can live from a collaboration with several prolific fellows of course. So she's proud of having guitarist Steve Adams (ARZ) and John Payne (Asia) as the co-writer/co-producer on her side.

When already producing a prog album you should also comprise one extended epic at least ... and including a short opener the following flamboyant Prometheus comes just like this. They choose a somewhat cinematic start including dramatic impressions, decent cello contributions (Mike Alvarez) and mandolin/bouzouki similar guitars. I would even dare to say that this is suitable for decorating diverse movies. Challenging ... great dynamics furthermore including alternating touches from Genesis to Dream Theater. Ryo Okumoto and Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists) contribute here and you'll find only a few moments where Lisa's synths are stepping forward into dominance really.

Totally different - on Tryptych acoustic guitar, piano and cello care for impressive profit sharing in some way, and then they provide Jam Jehan Nima - a wonderful eclectic piece of work, thus a masterpiece really, a tough case for a reviewer in the same way. Well, what can I say ... it's so tricky, featuring oriental touches, mysterious chorals, excellent guitar attendance - Flower Kings fans will be exited too. Merrill Hale, the other half of ARZ joining the lineup on drums, is on top of things here while Mitch Perry guests as for the guitar solo parts.Ruins Of Home shows some neo prog traces which remind me of Polish band Believe first of all and finally due to the catchy title track (John Payne on lead vocals) and Michael Sadler's appearance on Recurring Dreams the album ends with a softer Saga related touch.

No doubt, keyboard/synth wizard Lisa LaRue and her friends handle a wide spectrum of styles on 'Fast And Blue', reaching from eclecticism to AOR, comprising modern and 70s rooted prog elements - decorated with some sparkling jewels. The Special Edition version additionally contains a DVD (several videos) and a magazine with artwork; photos aso. I'm surprised about the compositional depth of several songs. Defiinitely not a keyboard-eccentric album, which one or two may expect probably. And all the fans of the aforementioned bands will detect something satisfying here, I'm sure - recommended by all means.

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 Project 2K9: World Class by LARUE, LISA album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.91 | 3 ratings

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Project 2K9: World Class
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This latest venture by US composer, author and keyboardist Lisa LaRue is a rather underwhelming feature as far as my personal perceptions go, especially considering some of the musicians involved in this production.

The songs are generally well performed, and apart from the drums that doesn't really add much to the proceedings the instrumentation is adequate. Mix and production isn't the best, but it's the compositions themselves that at least for me fails to deliver. Gentle, atmospheric and rather straight forward affairs, with one foot in the lighter side of symphonic art rock and the other in AOR territories these tunes generally come across as a bit too nice and pleasant to manage to intrigue. Pleasant and predictable yielding few surprises. The more strictly AOR based songs, Tell Me Why and final track Save Me, comes across as the weakest efforts overall, representing a style and sound extensively explored by others for more than 30 years and staying put to the most generic parts of this genre throughout.

Lisa LaRue is a fine instrumentalist though, and with better compositions at hand next time around I sure hope her next endeavour will be a pleasing rather than merely a pleasant affair.

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Thanks to chris s for the artist addition.

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