Lauren Mann, without her Fairly Odd Folk

Short a few flying tambourines and without a giant drum, Lauren Mann made her triumphant return to Kamloops, this time on her own.

Mann put on an intimate show at The Art We Are on Jan. 24. She played Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk’s own brand of alternative folk-pop tunes to a full coffee house. About 50 people were in attendance, a packed house for the small venue.

Yet again, Mann showcased her musical prowess by playing the ukulele, keys and singing. She delivered a nice mix of old and new and unveiled several unreleased songs, even one yet untitled.

Without her Fairly Odd Folk, the listening experience is different, but not by much. Playing solo, Mann still has the ability to transfix audience members with her strong and impressive vocal range. Heavy influences of Canadian vocalist Feist were ever-present throughout the show.

Audience participation is still a cornerstone of Mann’s musical practice. During the last song, “Lost My Way,” she asked whoever knew the tune to sing along. The audience obliged by clapping along to the beat.

Edited-0585Since playing at Tunes Against Tuition at TRU back in September, there have been changes to the band. Two members left, and Mann along with husband and band mate Zoltan Szoges will be taking a break from touring over the coming months.

Mann and Szoges are based in Calgary and plan to make the most of their time there by stretching their artistic muscles.

“Now that we are in Calgary, we’ve been going to shows and trying to reconnect with people. [There’s] so much going on, so much talent and a lot of cool shows. That was kind of our mission, to get back into that,” Mann said.

Despite their large fan following, Mann and Szoges aren’t able to focus on music full-time just yet. They are faced with the familiar artists’ dilemma: working a 9-5 job to pay the bills, or pursuing artistic desires full-time.

“It’s a balance between working all day, and you don’t really want to record at night when you get home, but you just have to push through,” Mann said.

Driven by a desire to communicate consistently with fans outside of the restrictions and limitations of Facebook, Szoges has dreamt up a way to do just that. The band is now offering a subscription-based platform through their website for fans to interact with one another and the band.

Edited-0665“[It] gives us a chance to really connect with our fans on a bit of a deeper level, rather than an email list or Facebook,” Mann said.

Every month they release a demo, scratch track, behind-the-scenes footage, or other type of unreleased media to fans and friends subscribed to the program. For $6 a month, fans can stay in the loop about what’s next on the horizon for the band.

Since the beginning, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk has been sort of fluid and collective in regards to band members. Often friends or other artists would jam with them for one show and go their separate ways. For the band, a huge part of their process is essentially an evolution of sound and experiences.

Fans should stay tuned for new and innovative things from the band. Change signifies growth and looking ahead, they will continue to grow and progress as musicians.

“It’s kind of scary but also very exciting. It’s a crazy industry because you can plan all you want. It’s good to have goals and plans, but you have to see what happens, and take it as it comes,” Mann said.