At just 30 years of age, it’s a bit odd to speak of Eugene musician Halie Loren as a time-tested veteran of the trade, but so be it. With eight albums to her name, along with international accolades, industry awards and globe-hopping tours, this gifted singer-songwriter has built the sort of solid career any artist would find enviable — the result of equal parts guts, hard work and rare talent.
Having cut her teeth and, to a large extent, carved her niche in the arena of modern jazz, Loren — who I’ve known since 2008 — in recent years has been pushing boundaries, urging her music beyond the strictures of jazz orthodoxy. Her new album, Butterfly Blue, takes forays into soul, folk, blues, straight-up American pop and, yes, jazz. It’s her most sophisticated and mature effort yet, and her best.
“It takes some risks and goes in some directions I haven’t gone in the past,” Loren says of Butterfly Blue. “It’s a little more soul-bearing and sort of gives me a feeling of courage to delve into that more.”
Such risks pay off, and nowhere more than in the Loren original “Butterfly,” a blistering Motown-style anthem of world-weary defiance that is at once wrenching and triumphant — a declaration of survival. The song signals new horizons of struggle and growth for the musician.
“I think with this one, I finally started to reconcile my discomfort with being cast into a specific role, artistically,” Loren says of the new album. “I started more to embody the idea I have of genres being way less important than what moves me, what inspires me, and the connections between all these forms of music that have inspired me; less separation, more integration, as long as it’s heartfelt.”
Butterfly Blue debuted at no. 1 on Billboard Japan’s jazz charts, and recently received a rave review from International Review of Music’s Brian Arsenault, who writes: “Ask me to walk into a club and conjure up my singer of choice and it would be Halie Loren.”
For Loren’s CD release show Friday, July 17,` at Wildish Theater, she’s promised a big band, including a brass section, the better to convey the rich, textured feel of Butterfly Blue. “This show, I wanted to make it really special for the album as well as for the fact that it’s my hometown crowd,” she says. “I gotta show some extra love.”
The show is also a homecoming of sorts for Loren, who has been so busy touring she doesn’t get to play Eugene as much as she’d like. “The significance is that this is where everything started for me, and where I still owe so much of my musical development,” she says, nodding to her local fans. “Their support gave me the confidence to go forth into the world and do this.”
Halie Loren performs 7:30 pm Friday, July 17, at Wildish Theater, Springfield; $15 adv., $18 door.