Album Review: Liza Anne – Two – Putting the mellow in melody
Liza Anne has a beautiful atmospheric sound that makes every song she sings seem like the most relaxing thing you’ve ever heard. Sometimes she reminds me of Sleeping at Last. Sometimes she just seems like what I wish a lot more songwriters could sound like; she makes me want to melt into my chair and just become a puddle of existence.
The opener is about putting yourself in difficult situations. The eerie last line, “I’m doing it to myself,” is infinitely relatable for many listeners. It’s part of what it means to be human to realize your failures. “Lost” soothes the listener into saying, “yeah me too” as you connect with the humanity oozing from each line. It’s a welcome start to a well produced chill pop album.
The second track “Northern Wind” is a bit more upbeat. It’s brisk, you might say, like a northern wind. It reminds me of something I’d listen to in the winter. There’s a chill aesthetic to the track conveyed with lyrics like “nipping at the backs of your heels,” that definitely works. The song doesn’t wind down quite like some of her others, but keeps listeners engaged in the crisp pop vibe, driven home by the accented drums and Liza’s soft vocals doing their own contrasting dance.
“Take It Back” is the song that you have probably heard from this album already. It’s the kind of poppy goodness, complete with catchy guitar and synth hooks, that shows up in commercials and breaks on the show between when the cute girl and the cute guy go on that date you can’t quite guess how it will go. But “Take It Back” is the song that will make you root for the romance to work out, even if you secretly believe he’s not good for her. It’s the perfect anthem for that urban lifestyle, dealing with complicated relationships and really good fun but bad for you television.
If I had to pick a favorite track, it’s “Low Tide.” It’s probably the track that best picks up all the lilting undulations in Liza’s voice. It’s also one of the best at fitting the aesthetic of the song with the message. It uses full instrumentation, including a steady drum and some intervening guitars, but manages to still hold us back with Liza’s unrushed delivery.
“Room” has some of the most powerful lyrics on the whole album. “I should’ve known you didn’t want me.” It’s fundamentally about knowing that someone is acting that weird, standoffish way when they want to break up but won’t say it. The song’s structure is similar to others on the album, but it has a forward momentum to it that really helps to expose the non-secret at the heart of the lyrics. It clicks really well.
The penultimate “Overnight” has some exquisite subtle harmonies, perfectly mellow lyric delivery, and snazzy, tight guitar licks. It’s not really pop and it’s not really any specific style. Maybe it’s chill rock. But mostly it’s poetry with a gorgeous melody. “Don’t go changing overnight,” the key lyric is something that many can relate to. It’s packaged together with a subversive, disarming minor melody that works so well. The major resolve found in Liza Anne’s admission of her fears at the end of the song show her brilliance as a songwriter. This is what indie pop artists should be aiming for, honestly.
The piano on the concluding track “Ocean” is just what we needed on this album. The ambient noise does great work in making the listener concentrate on Liza’s words. “Now we’re oceans apart…” is about moving away from someone special. There’s a pretty strong indication through several tracks here that the album wasn’t written from a happy place. “Ocean” shows most significantly pop jazz influences on Liza’s songwriting and vocal intonation. It all unites in an atmospheric, even cinematic piece about the difficulty of realizing not just that you should break up, but that in fact you already have. Whew. It packs an emotional punch.
Liza Anne’s melodies are mellow, but they are not shallow. This is not twee or silly, happy indie pop. This is not beebopping across a piano with fun chords and songs about raindrops and butterflies. It’s about emotional depth as much as emotional distance. It’s about a maturing in life and in relationships. It’s the kind of album that won’t be on the ipods of the plastics, but it will be commonly cited among the creatives and the intellectuals. It exhibits a self awareness of life’s raw dissonance and, at times, harmony that is clearly the work of a talented and accomplished songwriter.