Friday, 22 June 2012

Liz Stringer- Warmth In The Darkness

Warmth in Darkness is the fourth album from local singer songwriter Liz Stringer and for me it is up there as album of the year so far. It's an amazing record and even though I'm not fully across her back catalogue, it's somewhat of a departure from her more acoustic settings. There are so many new albums coming out that traverse the alt country alt folk idiom this album goes beyond any categorical definition, it's a soul album, one that resonates with stories of forlorn hope, heartbreak and life on the edge. Musically it's crisp some fantastic tight backing some melodic guitar lines, some old style soul organ and some tasteful horns. This record is full of surprises every song is painted from a different musical canvas.

In Anybody's Language is a strong statement of intent to open the album decrying the decay of small town life and the degradation of our environment some melodic guitar intersperses throughout the song. Angela captures the desperation of heartbreak that Stringer is so adept at conveying. The standout track for me is It's a Long Way Down, this is an awesome song with a great melody some great organ playing and Van Walker displays some dexterous fretwork. Stringer sings about standing at the precipice, living life on the edge. She eloquently captures the city after dark graffiti stained walls and dark inner city bars.

I ain't too good when I'm sober
My weary head it won't let me rest
It never seems to be over
The demons crouching beneath my breast
I got a job in the city
Making coffee for cops and crims
Hung over, shaking and shitty
Until I got that bottle between my lips.

Colourblind is swaggering ballsy rock and roll with a screaming guitar opening and horns adding to the depth to a song that once again talks of personal demons. Love Love Love cascades with horns and the hopelessness we often feel about love, Heavy Change is optimistic and upbeat focusing on being positive. With each song with each notion the palette changes there is nothing meandering about this album it combines so many different elements that fit together so well. Hearts Been Trembling has that classic old Stones feel from the early 70's with a honking sax opening and some four to the floor Chuck Berry styled riffs, Stringer sounds like she is having a blast on this song. High Open Hills is more bare and acoustic but with some nice organ flourishes, it's a tale of two lovers fleeing small town Mansfield for the city but her hope that her lover will be faithful is misplaced, to be replaced by anger and doubt.

Well he sent us some money but soon that dried up too,
Just like the hope in my baby's eyes blue
He'd sit at the window and wait every night
And I prayed that that bastard would do what was right.

Warmth in the Darkness was produced at Audrey Studios in Melbourne with Killjoys member Craig Pilkington producing, a fine album indeed.

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