Black Music Matters Festival

Alaina finally blazes headlining path

Paradise Rock Club, Boston, January 30, 2020

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Somehow after nine years in the public eye, Lauren Alaina was finally on her first headlining tour. That despite being runner up on American Idol, the show that launched her career, in 2011, and two albums.

On her own, Alaina has only had one certifiable hit, but in recent years, she's gained traction as a duets singer with Dustin Lynch, Chris Young and Kane Brown

Better late than never may apply here, and Alaina amply demonstrated that she certainly deserved to be a headliner at this stage of her career.

What set Alaina part from most of her country contemporaries was a personal authenticity. She was not afraid to talk about difficult times growing up in Georgia or not having the smoothest upbringing. (While she didn't on this night, on her previous visit to Boston one year ago, she referenced that she suffered from an eating disorder). And when she sang "Georgia Peaches," being from small town Georgia, it seemed like the real deal.

Some may talk the talk, but you get the distinct sense that Alaina knows of what she sang about.

It's no secret that Alaina is one powerful singer. That came through time and again during her 90-minute show. Alaina threw in several songs from an EP, her first release in more than three years, coming out in March. Alaina grew soulful on the percolating "Bring Out the Country In Me."

For some reason, Alaina tended to rely on videos of singing the song with the in-the-flesh version timing things just about exactly. Not so sure that was needed. Nor were recorded voice overs by Alaina in talking about herself. Being there in the flesh, she could just as well did the talking since she was more than capable elsewhere in the set. Perhaps she used this device to change her outfit several times.

Like many of her fellow musicians, she's not the most traditional with more of a modern sheen to her music. This was pretty basic guitar, bass and drums. With songs like "Ladies in the '90s" where she references Britney Spears, that only underscores the point.

Yet, the song also revealed another truth about Alaina - she was all about empowerment for females and making one's own way. "Ladies in the '90s," for example, could be seen in sharp contrast to country radio these days where women receive very short shrift.

In the fun new song, "Somebody Else's Problem," the sassy Alaina made it clear she wasn't afraid to cut the cord. On "My Kinda People," Alaina showed she's accepting of all comers. And on her biggest song, the closing "The Road Less Traveled," Alaina urged the crowd to blaze their own path, something she said has made her happy.

Like the song says, Alaina may well be marching to the "rhythm of a different drum." It may have been a long time in coming to get to where she is, but Alaina deserved much credit for being real. That goes a long way in the sometimes manufactured musical world in which we live.

Fillmore (that's his family name) opened the show and later even sang "The What Ifs" with Alaina, taking on the role of Brown. Fillmore, man bun and all, certainly was jacked up and may have been rightfully surprised about the positive reception he received from the sold-out crowd, which often sang along.

But maybe he was too jacked up because his voice didn't quite hit the mark on a number of occasions, perhaps oversinging. His songs were not particularly special either.