“X-fucking-Factor it is not, and with such a realised and singular vision she should be applauded” – Dara Higgins on Liz Green‘s new album O Devotion.
Liz Green has a formula: plucked simple guitar lines, backed up with honking, doleful brass which gives it all a kind of baroque, music hall affectation, a smoky theatre in war time Paris maybe, a pantomime villain lurking in the back of every song. Her voice is has a singular warble, but begins to sound quite samey after a while, and one begins to wonder where she’s appropriating the drama that the horns continually hint at from.
The whole record is simplified, clear, and she has a style that she rarely deviates from. French Singer, six songs in, offers respite, being piano driven as opposed to the finger picking vein we’ve been listening to for twenty minutes. The double bass and fitful drumming (think a relaxed Jim White) come in on Rag and Bone, giving a kind of dynamism that was lacking to this point, and could serve some of the other tracks well. She toys with dissonance and insidious droning in the background on Ostrich Song, which may be the album’s best tune; one, it should be said, shorn of horns. By the albums end, Gallows, she’s reduced it to her, on her own, a cappella, and then with the low tuned guitar, intoning “you always bring me down” with a kind of solemn adumbration. Her voice takes off for the last few bars, sails away as if freed by the end of the record. It leaves one admiring the potential, but kind of disappointed that first six songs just seem to be the same song, and it’s only in the second half, the final act if you will, that she really gets going.
Liz has her art honed. Her musicians are adroit and restrained, and her voice, if you get it, is something slightly off kilter, sort of Jazzy, sort of Victorian, very folky. It all sounds like a lovely night in a bedimmed venue, with hanging red velvet, and a fug of damp permeating the air, dark thoughts sloping through the streets outside. X-fucking-Factor it is not, and with such a realised and singular vision she should be applauded, even if it occasionally repeats itself.