Published by METRO
With a double measurement of 1930s jazz and a generous drizzle of modern English folk, Manchester-based blueswoman Liz Green serves up a dizzying cocktail of sound, complementing perfectly the main course of her rich and distinctive voice that has echoes of Jolie Holland and Karen Dalton.
I might be describing her music in as many words, as so many critics have, if I hadn’t asked Green herself for a description. ‘Tragi-comic pop,’ was her prompt response. ‘Tragi-comic’, she reasoned, because her spooky yet smart lyrics dwell on tales of death – a subject not always morbid, but sometimes amusing.
But, with her eerily jaunty jingles, why ‘pop’? To annoy people who forcibly thrust upon her other musical labels, apparently. And it looks like the three faux genres listed on her MySpace page – French pop, gospel and screamo – make a similar point.
Indeed, the singer-songwriter admitted that being associated with certain styles of music, and being compared with legendary artists, is sometimes suffocating – however flattering. ‘I can understand why people need to compartmentalise like that, but it can place extra pressure on you as an artist,’ she said.
Green broke into the music industry back in 2007, when she triumphed in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent contest and went on to play on the Somerset festival’s Pyramid stage. After releasing her first single Bad Medicine also that year, she was quickly shepherded into a studio to work on an album.
‘It was all a little bit scary,’ said the former support teacher. ‘A friend suggested that I record a single, then all of a sudden I’m Zane Lowe’s “hottest new sound”. I was getting a lot more attention that I was expecting, and it was quite bewildering. It was never in my mind to become a professional musician.’
Rather than rush out a record at the height of this early fame, as you’d probably expect her to have done, Green chose to stick to her own schedule. She spent four years touring in the UK and Europe, sharing stages with the likes of Jose Gonzales and Bon Iver, and only released her much-anticipated debut album on Monday.
And she’s very proud of the result. Entitled O, Devotion!, the record includes the singles Displacement Song and Midnight Blues, and is packed full of songs that are elegantly literate, comfortably rhythmic and bedazzlingly original.
Now back on the road, the Wirral-born musician’s forthcoming tour takes her from Inverness to Amsterdam – and she’s particularly eager to play at Electric Circus. ‘I have a few good friends in Edinburgh and I really enjoyed playing there on previous tours,” she said.
At a time when only the most powerful of recording artists seem able to do things their way, Liz Green proves otherwise. If you believe in giving artists credit where it’s due, then you’ll agree she’s one worth seeing.