When a Laura Reed & Deep Pocket show begins, the uninitiated in the audience are often surprised by the tiny frame of the singer when she steps on stage. As her voice and the warm tone of the band's vintage equipment start to mingle, the group's soulful presence quickly consumes the listener.
In their new debut album, Soul:Music, Reed and the band — keyboardist Ryan Burns, drummer Barret Helms, and bassist Ben Didelot — take listeners on a lyrical and musical voyage through various cultural traditions, especially through that of Reed's native land, South Africa. The collection is a work of art to be respected and cherished, filled with rich harmonies, conscious lyrics, and a beautifully blended rhythm section.
Songs like "Don't Go" demonstrate much more than a typical "one love" collaboration. They have a willingness to share personal experiences and to delve deep into the ups and downs of human nature. "Don't Go" has a unique story. Burns arrived at practice one day with a unique, emotional progression he had been fiddling around with on his organ. Immediately upon hearing the chords, Reed admits, "It made me feel like I was begging for forgiveness from somebody." A whole scenario unfolded as she sat and wrote the lyrics.
The song tells the story of someone in a relationship who wronged the person they care about most. It contemplates why people manage to hurt those closest to them, and simply asks for forgiveness. In a fateful twist, "Don't Go" ultimately foreshadowed a personal experience Reed had in the months following the song's completion. "When I play that song live, I definitely am reliving that situation. It's kind of almost spooky," she admits. "The scenario was very true to the image that I had when I first heard the chords he played."
The music on the new album resonates with listeners, reinforcing the human connection that Reed strives for. "That's the beauty of music — hearing me pour my heart out and talk about vulnerability, and how a lesson learned makes people understand that circumstance better," she says. "Music is powerful in that way. It heals."
News of Deep Pocket's "healing power" is spreading quickly throughout the Southeast, after only a year together as a band. They've already shared bills with Sam Bush, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Sydney Barnes of Parliament, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, and the Asheville Horns.
The band hopes to expand their worldly sound even further by working with more international artists.
Reed's South African background opened her eyes to the beauty of all cultures. Growing up, her family made sure to counteract the negativity surrounding them in the volatile country by stressing the importance of family and acceptance. They taught her to view the world as "one happy, big, human family because that's what it is, in essence."
"I lived in some intense segregation in South Africa, and when I came to the South, I saw that they're on a similar path," Reed says. "The only reason that kind of segregation can come about and be allowed is if people don't feel connected with each other. They can have this kind of paradigm of 'I'm separate, I'm better, I'm worse, etc.' Something that comes through in our music that I feel in a big way is this appreciation and not seeing the world in that way."