Aspiring Arizona country singer/songwriter Laura Walsh calls her debut album "Take Your Time," but don't ask her to apply that to her life.
• It took her just three years to graduate from Arizona State University with a communications degree.
• In less than a year, she went from quietly daydreaming about a music career to releasing her debut album and opening for a pair of big-name Nashville artists - all before she had clocked any real stage time.
• Tonight, she returns to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill at the Tucson Mall for her second Tucson show since February. She's penciled in to play April 11 and May 23 as well.
"I did things a little differently," she admits. "I recorded an album before I had really had stage experience."
Her focus and drive might surprise her classmates at Valley Christian High School in Chandler, not far from her hometown of Maricopa in the Phoenix area.
They knew Walsh when she was a self-conscious teen, not secure in her appearance or her talents.
But somewhere during her senior year in high school - and reinforced with a breakup a couple years later - Walsh found her footing.
With scarcely a few shows under her belt, the Maricopa resident took a handful of self-penned songs and recorded her album last April. Last summer, through contacts she made while interning with Phoenix radio station KNIX, she opened for super Nashville duo Sugarland. And last July 3, on the eve of her 21st birthday, she warmed up the stage for superstar Miranda Lambert.
"It was the best birthday present I ever got," she said.
Walsh grew up listening to all sorts of music, but she migrated to country.
"I write country. And I think country is where I fit best just because of the image I want to portray," she said. "I'm a rock and roll girl at heart.I love pop music, I love indie. I like everything, but country's home to me."
Walsh writes about love with the certainty that she will find the true version one day. Her style marries contemporary female artists like Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Eden's Edge, who maintain strong ties to country's twangy tradition without wallowing in it. Fiddles and acoustic guitar sometime make way for driving percussion beats and edgier rock-inclined guitar riffs. Fiddle rocks the empowering anthem "Hit and Run" before seguing into a cry with steel guitar on the lonesome ballad "Say Goodbye."
"I want people to hear the things I've gone through," Walsh says of her music. "I'm a real person. I'm a real artist. So when I write, I write about real experiences."
If you go
• What: Laura Walsh in concert.
• When: 9:30 p.m. today.
• Where: Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, 4500 N. Oracle Road, at Tucson Mall..
• Cost: $5 at the door; 21 and older.
• Details: 670-3697 or at countrybartucson.com
• Coming soon: Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats March 21; Jacob Martin Band April 18.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642.