CD Review
Liz Stringer
Pendulum
(one little indian enterprises)

pendulum_header Liz Stringer has a really distinctive voice that tends towards the bass-end of the scale. And although first impressions suggest it is a really strong voice, repeated listens reveal a certain vulnerability. Sometimes she sounds to me like she is struggling. Still, that isn’t necessarily a weakness in terms of performance or in what she is trying to do: these songs demand a certain vulnerability.

Here’s my constant problem in writing about music: how do I give an honest assessment of any given album without either overselling it or turning you off it without giving it a chance? You see, I think this is a very good album and I could really see how someone might fall in love with it. It’s just that I’m not one of those people.

This is an album of very high-quality, self-penned songs. It is beautifully played throughout with clever, story-telling lyrics that deal resolutely and matter-of-factly with the trials and terrors of everyday life. I also have to say that that it is great to see a bunch of emerging Australian artists, like Stringer, adding some value to the roots/folk tradition. What’s more, I bet these songs come up a treat live too.

But as I say, I don’t love it. As good as it is, I doubt I would put it on my pile of “must have” CDs. That might be a tad unfair as a standard, but hey, what other standard is there? Life’s too short and there is too much good music around to want to spend too much time on songs that don’t really float your boat. To put it another way, being great probably isn’t enough.

Having said all that, I would like to make one really big exception. The song ‘Get Myself Together’ does live up to that standard. I have, and will continue, to listen to that track over and over again.

It is so beautifully done. I love the sparseness of the arrangement, the instrumentation and the vocal. I’m listening to it as I write this and that shimmering slide guitar is making my spine hum. The harmony/backing vocals add a whole other dimension, bringing a gospel edge to the essentially blues format. Stringers lead vocal is perfect, telling the story, singing the song as if she had lived every line of it, even though, for reasons unknown, it is written from a man’s point of view. The long fade out is replete with clanging cymbals and discordant guitars, perfectly fitting the sense of unresolved anguish that is at the song’s heart. Love it.

The bottom line here is that this album is worth seeking out and giving a chance. Maybe, like me, it won’t make your “must have” pile, but I’d be really surprised if anyone regretted giving it a few listens.

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