Lauren Falls: A Little Louder Now

Canadian bassist and quintet riffle through a set of retiring, mostly modal laments joined by one of Vincent Youmans' best-known songs


Ten years have scuttled past since Canadian bassist Lauren Falls recorded her debut as bandleader in 2013. Her second album claims to reflect the courage and confidence gained during that decade, and it does just that – very quietly. There is no panicky instrumental flashiness here, no fit-to-burst compositions. With a wise head and safe pair of hands, Falls lets the music emerge naturally.

Some of Canada’s top jazz players gathered to record A Little Louder Now. David French gets a lot of limelight on tenor saxophone, while Todd Pentney’s piano and Trevor Giancola’s guitar fill out the harmonies. Falls’ brother Trevor keeps the whole project loping along from behind the drum kit.

The solos on this record encapsulate its understated poise and heart. Falls offers explorative, nothing-to-prove improvisations. On “Disagree To Disagree”, the band leans back and Falls leans forward, delicately searching for truth. French’s saxophone tone is breathier on this track, and it stands out as a moment that mixes deep darkness with soft sunlight.

Ticking time bombs inspired the title for “TTB”. The composition is wrapped around a pulsing piano figure. Giancola plays the off-kilter melody first, then French gets a turn. The heartbeat disappears while guitar and bass take unhurried solos, but returns to propel the song to its close.

I Want To Be Happy by Vincent Youmans is the only number on the eight-track album that is not a Falls original. It adds a swinging conclusion, revealing powerful chops developed during the nine years Falls spent gigging around New York City.

While there are occasional raised voices, A Little Louder Now is marked by calmness and clarity. Falls composes with the right notes, not the most notes. That takes bravery. It has taken ten years. And it takes the listener on a memorable journey too.

New View; A Little Louder Now; Jupiter; Disagree To Disagree; TTB; Take Me; Labyrinth; I Want To Be Happy (48.11)
David French (ts); Todd Pentney (p); Trevor Giancola (g); Lauren Falls (b); Trevor Falls (d). Toronto, Canada 2022.