Friday, February 04, 2011

REVIEW: Liz Janes - Say Goodbye

Liz Janes - Say Goodbye

Saying Liz Janes is a bit of a chanteuse is like saying Ella Fitzgerald was a great singer. Like Fitzgerald, there’s a soothing serenity to Janes’ voice, one that’s capable of quieting anything with its gentle, angelic, honeyed tone. Surrounded by a yin-yang of spacey folk and jazz-inflected soul, cradled by a spacious amount of reverb, Janes’ voice soars with a comforting, reassuring strength.

It’s been five years since Liz Janes’ last release (the 2005’s collaboration with LA free-jazz collective Create (!) ) and nearly six years since Janes’ last solo album (2004’s Poison & Snakes). Say Goodbye, released this past December, moves away from the indie and folk rock tendencies of Poison & Snakes and the avant folk experimentalism of 2005’s Create (!) collaboration towards more jazz and pop-oriented material. It’s refreshing to hear an artist take risks with his or her sound and direction, and Janes is no exception – precisely why Say Goodbye sounds somewhat adventurous without ever really attempting to do so.

Asthmatic Kitty artist and producer Rafter Roberts, Rocket From the Crypt’s Jason Crane, and Chris Schlarb (Create (!), I Heart Lung), help create a smooth, capacious sonic canvas for Janes to convey her stories of love’s trials and tribulations. “I Don’t Believe” is hot with a steady groove and warm, seductive brass as Janes fights with trusting her emotions and her man, in having faith in love. “Bitty Thing” and “Anchor” flow with atmospheric grace, like lovelorn words spoken to no one but the wind. “Time & Space” finds Janes singing an absolutely gorgeous lullaby about separating, going in opposite directions – and with music like this, the notion that parting is such sweet sorrow rings too true.

Overall, Say Goodbye proves to be a stronger and more cohesive album than its predecessor, Poison & Snakes, improving on Janes’ abilities as a songwriter and performer. However, it also can be a bit more demure than it needs to be – then again, a dreamier, more reticent vision of love’s highs and lows has its own beauty and appeal. With its dreamy folk atmosphere and alluring, passionate jazz soul, Say Goodbye is an album that surrounds you like a lover’s warm embrace in a downpour. Janes has said her intent with the album was to make her version of a soul record, and while it never fully finds its soul roots, the album is certainly soulful with its intimate ruminations overtop of the folky jazz pop sounds. Liz Janes has made a calming, astral beauty of a record with Say Goodbye, one that hits all the right notes – despite whether or not you’re heartbroken or falling in love.

MP3: Liz Janes - "I Don't Believe" from Say Goodbye

BUY: Say Goodbye is out now on Asthmatic Kitty. Pick it up here.

No comments: