There are two sides to every story, as the old adage goes, and there are certainly two sides to the story of singer-songwriter Laura Bell Bundys daring Mercury Records debut release, Achin and Shakin. Laura Bell bypassed the tried-and-true Music Row approach usually taken on country albums and instead created a bold concept album that is essentially two separate albums within one project.
The albums title aptly describes the projects division: Achin is a collection of slow and sultry country songs and Shakin is a group of sassy songs that are equal parts humor, confidence and attitude. One side presents a modern-day mixture of Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl and Sex and the Citys Carrie Bradshaw; the other unveils countrys answer to Norah Jones.
The debut single, "Giddy On Up," is an irresistibly upbeat and saucy kiss-off to a cheating lover, while the romantic "Drop On By" oozes sensuality as she beckons a lover to visit. Both sides pay homage to traditional country and soul music with a reinterpretation featuring modern production. "Two records, one woman is my motto," jokes Laura Bell, who penned all but one of the songs on the album.
"I have two different sides of my personality," she explains. "I have a crazy, wild, humorous, outspoken personality, and then I have a depth that only opens up when I am alone or with one other person, and that is captured with this album. I really couldnt do one without the other."
"I listen to music depending upon the mood that Im in. If I want to chill out, I will listen to certain music and almost make a playlist for it. If I am running or driving and want to hear up-paced music, I listen to different songs, so I created a two-sided album."
Its no surprise that Laura Bell shattered the usual industry formulas because nothing about her entertainment career has been normal. Like two of her idols, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, she traveled the musical highway that spans from Nashville to New Yorks famed Broadway.
She originated the lead role of Elle Woods in the Broadway musical Legally Blonde, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She also originated the role of Amber Von Tussle in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hairspray and played Glinda in the smash hit Wicked. Prior to that, she originated the role of Tina Denmark in the successful off-Broadway production Ruthless, The Musical!, for which she received the Outer-Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk nominations. (Her understudy, Britney Spears, also pursued a recording career.) Her professional career, which began at age nine, includes numerous network TV shows (Cold Case, Veronica Mars) and touring productions of Gypsy (featuring Betty Buckley) and The Sound of Music (featuring Marie Osmond). Her movie credits include Dream Girls, Jumanji, Life with Mikey and The Adventures of Huck Finn.