Lauren Monroe opens ‘Void of Course’, on upcoming album ‘Messages from Aphrodite’
I found a way to peace / It took me a long time sings Lauren Monroe, going through mental struggles in life and love on “Void of Course”, from her upcoming album, Messages from Aphroditereleased September 9.
Co-produced with Jim Scott, Messages from Aphrodite began assembling while Monroe mixed her 2021 release Under the wolf moon and write “Big Love Lullaby” as an alternate version of the most produced lupine moon track “Big Love”.
“We loved the warm organic feel and that I could continue the message of healing and unity in a softer, more vulnerable way,” Monroe said. American songwriter. “I thought it would be good to focus on a more organic sounding record that leaned more into Americana, and ‘Big Love Lullaby’ set the tone for this new record.”
Opening on the slower acoustic “Gold” and the enlightened “If You Want”, and moving through Monroe’s folk-Americana root of the soulful “Sparrow”, the uplifting “Dream Again and celestial renditions of “My Love,” Messages from Aphrodite is an ongoing ode to perseverance, overcoming fear, and mental healing.
For Monroe, a mental health advocate who founded the Raven Drum Foundation, which supports veterans dealing with PTSD and other effects of combat-related trauma, Monroe also hosted the Big Love Benefit Concert with Billy Idol , Wynonna Judd, the Allman Betts Band, and more in 2021—healing and renewal are paramount to the purpose of his music, including the heaviest Aphrodite single “Void of Course”.
Supported by a deeper collective of musicians throughout the album, “Void of Course” contains the denser message derived from its astrological title, referring to the movement of the moon from one planet to another, and a metaphor of disconnected love and is complemented by the double drumming of her husband and collaborator Rick Allen (Def Leppard) and Beth Goodfellow (Iron and Wine, Allison Russell), guitarist Tyler Bryant (Larkin Poe), as well as cello and double bass of Steve Uccello and the unwavering rhythm of Monroe on the djembe, a traditional West African goblet drum.
“This song is an expression of anger, fear, despair and knowing what can heal you but choosing the opposite,” Monroe said. “A model of our soul choosing self-love but not being strong enough to stay the course alone.”
Monroe recently discussed her ongoing mission and the messages of human connection and mental health, and love-based healing through the music, writing and story behind Messages from Aphrodite.
American songwriter: How far back do some of these songs go for you? For some of the older songs, why did they still resonate with you now?
ML: Several songs on the record were songs I had written over the years that still resonate with who I am and the overall themes of love and resilience that I write about. I especially like the song “My Love” which was originally on my first solo album, Freedom Sessions. We re-tracked and remixed it and brought in Greg Leiz to add some pedal steel. His work lit up the track with depth and dreamy vibes. It’s one of my favorites on the record.
“If You Want” is another song that I wrote a while ago but never recorded, and I think the intent of that song is still very relevant. In these turbulent times, it seems essential to check ourselves in and ask ourselves, “Do I want to live in love or in fear”, especially as we face some of the darker aspects of change we are all going through. “If you want” speaks of it as a message from Aphrodite.
AS: “Void of Course” offers messages of healing, self-love, perseverance, etc. How does this relate to the rest of the album? Is there a common thread between the 11 songs of Messages from Aphrodite?
ML: “Void of Course” is true to the message of this album and explores the mystical, the hope for healing and the dark and light sides of love. These are common threads that run through the album in each song. “Void of Course” is an astrological term defining a state of the moon where it appears isolated as it moves away from one planet and into another. I used this as a metaphor to explore the struggle of being in a relationship, especially an unhealthy one. The lyrics tell the story of feeling disconnected and wanting to leave a toxic partner but not having the power within to do so.
I thought it was important to explore the dark side of love, which is painful but has gifts to receive. Within these darker textures of emotion and pain there can be tremendous potential to see yourself and become stronger.
AS: Describe the title. What are Messages from Aphrodite?
ML: I am a mixed media artist, as well as a songwriter and performer. While we were making the album, I was doing a lot of painting for the gallery. One of my pieces was Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. She is also celebrated as a warrior goddess, which really resonates with me. As the songs on the album began to unfold, I realized that the viewpoints revealed were mostly from a higher female perspective.
Songs like ‘Gold’, ‘Sparrow’, ‘My Love’ and ‘Void of Course’ all have very clear messages about how to love, grieve and be aware of the struggle within and are delivered by a teaching wrapped in a song. I feel connected to so many women navigating these kinds of battles, and wanted to share the mystical voice of the feminine through music to help us honor the higher wisdom within each of us, an energy that I believe is greatly needed in our present times to heal ourselves and each other.
Most of these songs on Messages from Aphrodite carry these messages of love from a higher source of the feminine. At a time when the spotlight is on women’s struggles and there is a growing global awareness of mental health and our human quest to feel loved, I felt Aphrodite could provide the voice for encourage change and self-inquiry into our inner love. and loss.
AS: “Void of Course” is definitely more difficult. Musically, was there anything you wanted to approach differently on this album?
ML: “Void of Course” had an aggressive nature that I wanted to preserve in the production. It all started with percussive acoustic guitar and a vocal that quickly took off with a drum loop created by my co-producer, Jim Scott. We continued to build the song around this percussive element and add bass, organ, electric guitars and backing vocals. I love to set up songs with an instrumental intro when I can, and this song really demanded that. The intro cello that Steve Uccello played on the song sets up the darker introspective element that sets the tone for this track’s journey. Unlike the more American vibe of the rest of the record, this one brought out my love of rock which was the foundation of my life as a singer for many years. Although I wanted this album to be warm and open, I couldn’t resist bringing the energy with “Void of Course” and my cover of “Can’t Let Go” by Lucinda Williams . Sometimes you just have to rock.
AS: What types of songs do you turn to now when you write?
ML: I’m writing more percussion-based songs these days with a heavy emphasis on drums and hand percussion as inspirations. Right now I have a few that come from a capella singing on drums, which I’ve done a lot when I’ve been leading drum circles. It frees me from guitar writing and inspires me to create differently. I wrote “Run with Wolves” from my last album this way, and it was a refreshing way to write. As I write, hope, healing and growth are still the messages…holding a torch for anyone in need.
Photo: Tracy Moyer/One in a Million Media