Jazz/folk

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Emily Ritchie Steve Creedy

A Light from the Other Side Lisa Richards Foot­stomp Lisa Richards’s voice is de­light­fully un­usual. At first it is jar­ring, pierc­ing against the oth­er­wise dul­cet jazz, folk and bluesy feel em­a­nat­ing from her mu­sic, but slowly the tim­bre re­veals its del­i­cate du­plic­ity. On the one hand Richards sounds like a sweet young girl who is try­ing to find her place in the world. On the other, she sounds com­mand­ing and con­fi­dent. It makes for truly stim­u­lat­ing lis­ten­ing. Orig­i­nally from far north Queens­land, Richards spent 22 years in Austin and New York, re­leased five al­bums and even re­ceived singing lessons from Mariah Carey’s mother, opera singer Pa­tri­cia Hickey. Now she has re­turned to Aus­tralia to re­lease her sixth stu­dio al­bum. A Light from the Other Side is a rev­e­la­tion, in­spired by the break­down of her 14-year mar­riage. Recorded in coun­try Vic­to­ria with com­poser and pro­ducer Greg J. Walker (Paul Kelly, CW Stonek­ing), the al­bum is a bit­ter­sweet mix­ture of op­ti­mism and an­guish. The songs con­tain sen­si­tive lyrics (“There’s a bro­ken heart in ev­ery chest, there’s al­ways one more rea­son to re­gret”), sooth­ing melodies and a range of in­stru­men­ta­tion. Even though they form a tightly wo­ven nar­ra­tive, each song is also strong on its own. Opener Frank Si­na­tra in­cludes sharp man­dolin strums and heav­ing brass el­e­ments that pulse to a tango rhythm. Milk and Honey could be the theme to a de­tec­tive show, a sleuthing tune that res­onates with plucked bass, frag­ile drums and crisp vi­o­lins. Sum­mer Af­ter­noon is re­flec­tive, hum­ming with vi­o­lin sighs and del­i­cate pi­ano, whereas Where My Heart Used to Be is stri­dent coun­try-folk com­plete with banjo. Friends Out of Strangers is an up­lift­ing fi­nal note about the kind­ness of strangers. Richards is a sim­ple yet pow­er­ful song­writer who has beau­ti­fully en­cap­su­lated the in­tri­ca­cies of the hu­man con­di­tion. gui­tar to carry the day with a sat­is­fy­ingly au­then­tic per­for­mance. The ven­er­a­ble B3 or­gan works its liq­uid magic best in the faster-paced songs, and the 10 orig­i­nal tracks from the trio open strongly with the bluesy funk of both Keepin’ from Lovin’ and the ti­tle track. Other high­lights in­clude some 1960s in­stru­men­tal fun with Mu­cho Jalapeno and the Bo Did­dley-style Shack o’ Mine.

The band varies the pace with a cou­ple of lan­guid tra­di­tional slow blues num­bers, Let Me Down Easy and Do You Know How it Feels and in­tro­duces the blues harp in Treat Your Lover Right.

The al­bum ends, as all live per­for­mances should, on a high note, with the lively It Ain’t Right and the key­board-driven groove of Swing for Marz. Pocket the Black has al­ready been named the Ade­laide Roots and Blues As­so­ci­a­tion’s al­bum of the year and while it doesn’t blaze any new trails, it sug­gests a Lazy Eye show is good place to be.

Given the band is cur­rently tour­ing, you may be in luck.

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