Elizabeth & the Catapult Launch a Few at CMJ

by delarue

The crowd at Rock Shop Saturday night was loud, but Elizabeth Ziman got them to shut up. The multi-instrumentalist songwriter who basically is Elizabeth and the Catapult did it with her voice, and her lyrics, and her tunes. And by being a 99 percenter – when asked, pointedly, by a voice in the crowd if she was down with the Wall Street protesters, her answer was an emphatic “yes.” As if anybody needed further proof, she directed them to to check out the title track to her 2009 album Taller Children and its thinly veiled story of a bankster who jumps out a window. Her songs did the rest of the talking.

She opened solo on electric piano with Thank You for Nothing, singing as her fast fingers flung off rapidfire, Romantically-infused rivulets. “They say hurting is growing, if you believe when you say it,” she wailed, “thank you” becoming a mantra that moved from bitter to desperate. In the studio, her voice has nuance to match her lyrics. Live, she’s a force of nature. She really cut loose on the catchy ba-ba-ba Britpop hit Race You Back Home and then a raw, intense song that set aching Appalachian-flavored harmonies to a funk beat. Ziman’s songs are smart, and seldom completely straight-up, whether musically or lyrically, perfectly illustrated by the next song in the set, its angst simmering below the surface of a blithe 70s-style country-pop tune.

“Are you ready for some classical, bitches?” she smirked, and launched into a Dresden Dolls-esqe noir cabaret number with lightning, Beethoven-esque piano flourishes.”You can trust me now,” was the refrain all the way through…until the creepy ending. She and the band closed with a soaring version of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows that energized everyone…but left out the meter on the bed that will disclose what everybody knows! Without that meter, the song might as well be Nobody Knows. This might have been CMJ, time might have been tight, but that meter has got to stay where it’s supposed to be!