Album Review – Lauren Mascitti’s “God Made A Woman”

Some performers choose country music. For others, country music chooses them. Environmental factors and upbringing can of course influence who the holy ghost of country music decides to fill with the unwavering desire to sing and perform. But due to the adversity present on the traditional side of the genre, and the unpopularity of it in the commercial markets, you must be full of a unnatural and unwavering drive to pursue it.

Raised in the small farm community of Louisville, Ohio, it was clear from an early age that Lauren Mascitti was one of those who’d been chosen to perform. Being raised by her grandparents meant the influence and values of classic country music were more present in the home than most, and Mascitti had recorded her first album by the age of seven. Singing in her church’s Gospel choir, she showed early promise that turned into a serious career, and by the age of 12, Mascitti had moved to Branson, Missouri and was performing six nights a week with Gospel singer and former Oak Ridge Boys member Gary McSpadden.

Gospel music was Lauren Mascitti’s greatest influence early on, but she began making regular trips to Nashville by the age of 13, and released her first selection of original songs to the Gospel market by 15. Despite her serious passion for music, Mascitti also attended and graduated college and became a registered nurse, still practicing in Nashville today.

All of that personal history has led up to where the 28-year-old is now, which is poised to break out in country music, and with a distinctly traditional country style and fiercely personal original songs. In January, Lauren Mascitti released her latest album God Made a Woman, which was a collaboration with her current love interest—country musician, songwriter, and producer Shawn Camp. Along with Camp, Ricky Skaggs, pedal steel legend Paul Franklin, guitarist Guthrie Trapp, fiddle player Aubrey Haynie of The Time Jumpers, and others, they put together what will be one of the better records to be turned in during 2020.

God Made A Woman is a great specimen of true country music in both the stories and sounds, and offers a strong counterargument to the prevailing wisdom that such a thing can’t be relevant in these times, while introducing a songwriter and singer we’ll hopefully be hearing much more from in the future. For Americana fans, the warbling tone of Lauren may remind you of Courtney Marie Andrews. It’s not overpowering, but heartfelt and believable, with pain inferred between the notes and runs.

Lauren Mascitti displays no desire to sway from the charge of interpreting her personal stories within the traditional confines of country music. But there’s also ample variety and latitude displayed on this record, from the bluesy attitude of “Faded Love, Faded Love,” to the traditional country waltz of “Losing My Mind,” to the playful acoustic tones of “Play Me Like a Song,” she keeps it spicy and interesting throughout, while broaching subjects that feel relevant to audiences regardless of age. “I Wanna Show You My Town” is a brilliant stroke of songwriting as both a love letter to a loved one and to the sense of home we all feel.

The interesting note about Lauren Mascitti (or perhaps the elephant in the room) is that she is currently competing on American Idol, and just made it into the show’s Top 21. Nobody will blame you for not wanting to tune into the program and risk interfacing with Luke Bryan and Bobby Bones, but it does make for an obvious discussion point to her story, and this album.

Competing, or even doing well on a televised singing competition has gone from assuring you stardom after the season, to being virtually inconsequential to your subsequent career, to perhaps these days being a burden if anything from all the champions who’ve been crowned on a finale only to see their careers quickly flame out. It might be better if Mascitti bows out earlier than later, but if you’re into watching such things, perhaps it gives you someone to root for.

No matter how Lauren Mascitti fares on American Idol or anywhere else, her new album God Made A Woman is a pretty excellent specimen of country that hopefully catches on with the wide public, and launches another important career for an artist that holds true to the traditions of country music.

8/10

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