Loren Cole // For the Sake of Being Honest
If there is one thing you can learn from Loren Cole, it’s to question everything. The singer-songwriter came of age in the digital world, but even she finds the whole social media landscape a bit exhausting. Her forthcoming debut album, For the Sake of Being Honest (out Aug. 24), serves as a reminder that what matters most is what is happening right here, right now. She’s only 22, but her mind is sharp and her songwriting is sharper. She’s shared stages with the likes of Jewel, The Accidentals, Mike Mains, Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers and many others. This is only the beginning of a very promising career.
For the Sake of Being Honest is soaked in beautifully faded confessionals, songs that are reminiscent of contemporaries such as Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Tift Merritt; delicate folk-driven songs about what human existence means. “I had a photo shoot a while back,” Cole says, “and the photographer asked me to come up with three words to describe me and my music. I said: nostalgic, curious, and warm. A lot of the record is searching, asking for honesty from people.”
The album was produced by Henry Was, son of the pioneering musician, producer and record exec Don Was (The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Stevie Nicks) out of his Santa Monica studio. Cole unearthed many songs she’d been sitting with for a while. Some were written during her college years, but still others found their way out of her angsty teenage days. There’s a certain innocence that seeps out of her work, a magical, twilight glow that makes her songs universal and appealing. “God Only Knows Why” opens the record with a mature, discerning tone — “God only knows why leaving leaves you right back where you started,” she muses over a jangly tambourine and guitar.
“Father Time,” another deceivingly sunny mid-tempo, sees her take a breather to observe time’s fleeting tick-tock as she personifies time as love, youth, and the earth. “Blue” serves as a dedication to her mother, who has stood by her through thick and thin, and “Brand New,” inspired by one day’s laundry, compares a well-worn old shirt to how people change. Through each intimate and earnest meditation, she remains connected to herself and rooted in truth.
Naming the album For the Sake of Being Honest made total sense. “I came up with the album title before we started recording anything,” Cole says. “I had originally written it down in my phone as a potential song title. Honesty is important to me, especially in the midst of social media and having a public presence. Everyone gives you the highlight reel online. It’s not reflective of what real life is. If you want to feel self-conscious, go open up Instagram. You can get down on yourself really quickly.”
That observation sparked the album’s main thread lines of “self-work,” as Cole puts it, and an aching need to make necessary changes. “I don’t see many people having discussions about really looking at yourself – a practice that I believe has a significant impact on the world we create for ourselves and others. I have a bit of an obsession over asking the right questions,” Cole says. “The songs seemed to fit really well with all these ideas, hence the title of the album.”
While Cole handles much of the guitar playing, she turned to a band of reputable student musicians to help her out. You’ll find Henry Was on drums, Paul Cornish and Michael Arrom on keys, Logan Kane and Sol Was on bass, Sam Yun on guitar, and multi-instrumentalist Jack DeMeo, who you’ll hear on guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and many other instruments. Brian Malouf (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band) manned the mixing board, balancing out her feathered vocals with a bit of polish while maintaining a uniquely textured sound.
“The first time I heard For the Sake of Being Honest in its entirety was our last night in the studio,” Cole says. “It was 4 a.m., Henry and I were sitting in front of the computer for what must’ve been our fifteenth hour of the day. We lined all the songs up and listened to the whole thing with rough mixes in one sitting. I had this realization where I really saw the possibilities of the music, and felt like I actually did have something to say as an artist. It gave me the confidence to go for it and explore what would happen.”
She recently graduated from the popular music program at the University of Southern California but grew up in Essexville, a small town outside of Bay City, Michigan. Cole spent many summers out on the lake. She spent her last two years of high school at Interlochen Center for the Arts, where she came to fully understand what being an artist meant. “It really opened my eyes to the possibility of having a career in music,” Cole says. “My dad used to give this analogy of a pack of mules that were all hooked together and going in one direction. He used to say, ‘If you’re one of the mules walking in the middle, it’s really hard to turn right.’ I always thought of myself as one of those middle-pack mules that somehow broke out.”
Loren Cole is young, but wise beyond her years. For the Sake of Being Honest is a mighty collection of truth, steeped in life-affirming epiphanies that only come from living with eyes sincerely open. Her shrewd and engaging examinations of relationships and coming-of-age are culled through detaching herself from a world of narcissism and toxicity. Her talents are captivating, and if this is her beginning, she’s got a long career peeking up over the horizon.
“Her style is unique, her vocal crystal clear, and her songwriting is hopeful in the best way.” – Ear to the Ground Music
“A singular voice…a musical universe of softness, beauty and femininity.” – Music For Your Heart
“Breezy lyrics…exuberant performance…would be perfectly at home on NPR and country radio — a big burst of emotion with thoughtful crafting.” – No Depression
Publicist: Rachel Hurley
“I was really cautious when I decided to seek out PR. I knew I wanted the service but had heard a lot of stories from friends who had poured out their savings with no return. Baby Robot breaks that stereotype. Rachel Hurley consistently kept me up to date throughout and had my back on all things press-related. The energy of candidness, transparency and support that Baby Robot puts first made for a grateful addition to my album release.” – Loren Cole