THE BEAT May 06
Frisky or Fair (Civility Records, 2005)
Have you ever encountered a CD in the record store that you just felt was going to be good? Something about the way the light hit at a certain moment, maybe you were in a low spot during the day, or you were in a dry spell musically and everything sounded less than stellar. The only aesthetic complaint I can muster about Eliza Lynn’s recently released discFrisky or Fair is that it probably won’t stand out in a crowd of flashy album covers: the exterior is quite simple and doesn’t do the inside justice. But, of course, we’ve all learned never to judge a book by its cover, right? Didn’t think so…
Lynn’s album has an unmarketable sound and feeling to it. I was entranced by the first track and have been similarly entranced by every track since then. Simply put, the musicianship on this CD is astounding. Combining elements of ragtime, folk, bluegrass, jazz, and world music, Lynn has created a unique blend of music that defies categorization and sticks to your spirit like old-time religion. The effect is never jarring or uneven; instead it’s a near-perfect blend of honesty and integrity in songwriting and music that envelopes you like wisp of smoke.
What Lynn has in her corner is a voice full of sweetness and poison that reminds me of red-headed siren. Think Neko Case crossed with Jane Monheit without all of the studio trickery or reverb, and the volume turned down to a whisper to allow for breathing room. On songs like “You Go ‘round Corners” and “Believe in Me,” Lynn demonstrates that she can hold your attention with just her lyrics and her banjo. While songs like “Not 10 Miles” and “Frisky or Fair” employ a band to accentuate rather than detract from the singer.
On the title track, Lynn compares herself to a two-sided coin, one that is either frisky or fair. While it’s an appropriate metaphor for the singer and her songs, it doesn’t begin to do her justice. She has many more than just two sides to her music and every one of them is worth the exploration.
Purchase her CD at www.elizalynn.com
BRIEFLY: Self described bluesy Americana roots music that mixes in other elements of jazz, soul, with excellent singing and songwriting.