Now I’ve been a bit lax in reviewing this album for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with now, however it’s one that has been haunting me, and making me decide the best way to tackle the review, and anyone who usually knows me, knows I am not usually lost for words.
A bit of context, I know Liz, a multi instrumentalist and singer now based in Bristol, from many years ago in a different life and different world, when Liz was studying music at York University and I was an advertising salesman we shared a house in York for a year or so, and as these things do, our paths diverged and we only met again by chance on Whiteladies Rd in Bristol, where we both found ourselves.
Liz is an intelligent, driven and highly talented musician, and whilst she has done other recordings over the years, this is her first official release, and in typical Liz style it encompasses the Moors Murders, Lacanian theory, Greek mythology and the perception of the woman throughout history.
Now onto the thorny part, this is not a concept album about Myra Hindley, and of course throughout the album Liz makes it’s abundantly clear that there is no sympathy with her for her actions. The Moors Murders are reviled and rightly so, and resonate down history through popular culture, and artists like The Smiths have written songs about them (Suffer Little Children) and this is far more in that vein than Chris Morris Brasseye Pulp spoof Blouse with their jaunty tune On me Oh Myra.
An emotive subject then, and one that caused controversy in my house when I expressed interest in reviewing this album.
Liz has taken on a brave subject and is a clever enough writer to make it work, so what is the music like?
There’s elements of Kate Bush or Tori Amos throughout the record, but then anything with ambition and concept from a female singer with a piano is bound to draw those comparisons, but Liz has a unique vision, and covers plenty of diverse musical bases from the haunting opening of Prelude leading into Gorton, Liz has a classical touch and a fantastic voice, her themes of Greek mythology lead us on in the slow funk of Corinth, whilst the haunting delicate beauty of Saddleworth, with it’s connotations lingers long after the record has finished.
Throughout the album Liz weaves the mythology, the dark history of Brady and Hindley and wider visions of the role of Woman throughout history into an eclectic, sonically pleasing and musically triumphant album.
There is a hell of a lot going on here, not just musically but also lyrically, with big ideas matched by big choruses and confident intelligent music that grabs the listener and makes you think.
Aural soundscapes like the Real, with it’s cut up dialogue and disturbing electronic sound effects jars and brings the horrors home to you in the only way it can leading into the delicate beauty of Thessalia, with it’s reference to mythology of women turning into trees, and some stunning vocal works by Liz accompanied by some delicately lush orchestral arrangements that builds and swells bringing Liz’ voice to the fore. Whilst Cisthene with it’s funky radio friendly catchy sound discusses the role of women in the world and mythology, playing a very Beautiful South trick by wrapping up very complex and deep ideologies in a jaunty summery pop song, which works really well and slots nicely into the album.
The album closes with the trilogy of (Exit) with it’s big question and great choral finale, leading into Franklin with it’s dramatic percussive driving work and a thrilling musical climax and more of Liz’ lush harmonic vocals.
Myhrra wraps up the album, with its subtle title a clue to the whole context of the whole album draws the album to a close with it’s reprise of some of the musical themes of the album and it’s haunting closing coda.
This is an album with a lot of emotional, musical and psychological depth, asking big questions and allowing the listener the space and time to think about the answers.
Liz has weaved a complex and intricate musical tale together here and made a genuinely original album, one that stays with you long after the music has finished.