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.