New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: jason loughlin

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

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.

Jessie Kilguss Brings Her Plaintively Jangly, Brilliantly Catchy Tunesmithing to the East Village

You might wonder why this blog waited til now to mention the killer twinbill back in mid-July at Hank’s Saloon with Jessie Kilguss and an early but auspiciously dark incarnation of Karla Rose & the Thorns. The answer is that Kilguss, whose best project is her own band, is also in demand as a harmony vocalist. Shortly after that gig, she went on an extended European tour with Freddie Stevenson and the Waterboys. But she’s back, and has a gig at around 8 on Nov 10 at Hifi Bar.

Kilguss is as brilliant a singer as she is a tunesmith. Her speaking voice alone has more liveliness and color in it than most people can evoke singing at full throttle – there’s a rippling undercurrent of unselfconscious joy, as if she’s got an irresistibly funny secret to share. Her singing voice has that same unaffected warmth, with a hint of Americana twang or bluesy poignancy depending on the lyric or the character she’s portraying (a strong and quite successful acting background informs her style). As a songwriter, she resists easy resolutions, deftly building the tension in a phrase until she really needs to bring it in for a landing, with often breathtaking results. Behind her, a tight, purposeful janglerock band plays her pensive, typically midtempo songs.

She opened that set at Hank’s with the catchy but gently shattering title track from her most recent album, Devastate Me, a quiet account of the heartbreak to end all heartbreaks. Guitarist Jason Loughlin imbued I’m Your Prey with some unexpected roar and grit over Rob Heath’s tumbling drums in contrast to Kilguss’ wounded ingenue vocals. Then she brought the lights down with a wistfulness just short of fullscale longing, throughout the catchiest song of the set, Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, inspired by both the Alexandra Fuller memoir as well as Kilguss’ rural Massachusetts childhood.

Bassist John Kengla set a hypnotic ambience on the next number, rising from distantly Indian-tinged resonance to bouncy folk-rock. Loughlin’s deep-space quasar leads pulsed through the Anglian folk noir of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, then the band mashed up honkytonk and Lou Reed gutter-glam with Tennessee, an unlikely but strangely successful blend. From there they hit a pounding, tense straight-up rock groove with the gloomy Civil War narrative March to the Sea. They stuck with the same beat for the song after that, Loughlin’s crashing, bell-like chords a welcome antidote to the noisy crowd (no surprise, this being Hank’s – people go there to tie one on). After the subdued melancholy of You Didn’t Do Right By Me, they closed with the most epic song of the night, the towering Ten Stories High and its 80s grand guignol. After wrapping up a similarly epic tour, it’s a good bet that Kilguss will be psyched to be back on her own turf, singing her own songs.