Liz Green: O, Devotion!
- Liz Green is a British singer-songwriter whose style is most unusual. Taking a fascination with old-timey Amercian blues and... something else, jazz maybe? She taught herself guitar and piana and ...then started to write the most unremittingly dark little ballads about life in the gutter, love gone wrong and on several, documented occasions, swinging from the end of a rope. When Liz Green first started doing her peculiar things, she might well have been the last person to predict that she'd be releasing an album that would do big business at home in England, let alone giving it an international release a few months later. Her debut, O, Devotion! contains some of her older songs, many of which have already done the rounds as 7 inches, like Bad Medicine and French Singer. They're easy to pick out because they feature just Liz singing and playing. According to her the style is a mixture of her interest in old blues types like Son House slapped up against another of the styles she loves: anti-folk. You might not initially associate the two, but if you think about it, the stripped down accompaniment, the disregard for many of the niceites of musicality and production and songs which peel back the layers to reveal the seedier and psychologically damaged fabric of life, they fit hand and glove. That being the case it's unsurprising that Liz Green's dark little ditties work so well. The chief difference between Liz's old stuff and the new is her band - it's certainly not the stories she tells, they're as dark as ever. The same blues and folk tropes are at work too, but the horns, clarinets and drums add what, to me, is an old-timey jazz sound to Liz's repertoire. While I was hearing Cole Porter, Bessie Smith and Al Jolson, Liz tells me that it's quite by accident and the finger-snapping orchestration actually stems from her love of musicals (and also, not least, as a self-taught musician, an imperfect ability to tell her players quite what she wants them to do). Whatever she was trying for, the result is dark, beguiling, enthusiastically strange and clearly finding a lot of receptive ears around the world.
- Chris Cobcroft.