Searing Yet Subtle, Southern Blues-Infused Intensity from Lizzie and the Makers

by delarue

Lizzie Edwards is one of the most instantly recognizable, individualistic singers in the New York rock scene. With her velvet voice, she delivers a wallop: there are few singers in any style of music who can be as simultaneously pillowy and ferocious. Although steeped in blues belting, she’s not derivative or trying to be either Janis or Robert Plant: she’s just herself. She and her first-class band the Makers have a brand-new album, Fire From the Heart of Man streaming at Spotify and an album release show on Nov 12 at 8:50 PM (not 9 – at least that’s what the club calendar says) at the Shop, 243 Starr St. (Wyckoff/Irving) in Bushwick. Cover is $10; take the L to Jefferson St.

The album opens with Song 3.5 and its catchy, steadily descending, blues-fueled melody, Edwards’ thunder references paired with resonant slide guitar by Jason Loughlin (of Jessie Kilguss‘ band and many other first-class projects). The Wrong Side is a soul/blues tune in the same vein as mid-90s, peak-era Robert Cray, Rob Clores’ organ adding slithery textures in tandem with James Winwood’s simmering guitar lines. From there, Edwards goes into seething mode with Fight Song – “I’m ready” is the mantra – Winwood channeling David Gilmour with his biting, aching solo.

Monster builds from syncopation to a stomp, with another tasty contrast between rippling organ and burning guitar multitracks. Edwards’ assertion is that even if you fight with monsters, and manage to fend them off, you don’t necessarily become one. Hopeless opens with a hypnotic intro rising to a pounding but spare groove with the organ, and a mighty chorus that gives Edwards a launching pad for some of her most intense pyrotechnics here: “Can can you turn me away again?” she asks with a towering angst.

The gentler, organ-fueled, 60s Memphis-tinged undercurrent of It’s Not Me, It’s You masks the understated bitterness of the lyrics. The pummeling rhythm section – Brent Bass on…you guessed it and Bryan Bisordi on drums – opens the propulsive Good Song, Clores’ rippling solo handing off to Winwood’s more aggressive spirals. It’s everything that’s good about southern rock without the cheesy stoner vibe or endless noodling.

Edwards saves her most potently plaintive vocal for Take Me Back, with its brooding, heartbroken vibe. The most psychedelic track is Too Late, part noir soul, part psychedelic Led Zep at their most low-key. The album winds up with its darkest, most surreal anthem, Sleep It Off and its Abbey Road Beatlisms. Watch for this album at the end of next month on the Best Albums of 2015 page.

If you dig this band, you’d be missing out if you didn’t also get to know Edwards’ fierce, harmony-fueled gospel side project Lizzie and the Sinners with Erica Smith, Sarah Wise, Charley Roth, Jahn Xavier, Chris Schultz, and Tom Shad.