Other than she’s apparently based in Cambridge and also plays guitar in local bluegrass outfit The Woodberrys, I know absolutely nothing about Lizzie J Taylor. However, Living In The Lowlands, her debut album, speaks eloquently on her behalf.
Produced by Nick Barraclough, who also contributes on backing vocals, pedal steel and mandolin, with duo partner Mark Gamon on guitars, it slots comfortably into the burgeoning new acoustic scene, Taylor proving both an accomplished writer and vocalist.
On the scurrying opener Leaving Like The English, it’s hard not to find yourself likening her to Thea Gilmore, a comparison that also holds true on the more trad folk and blues inclined One Thousand Times Untrue, which comes with unaccompanied intro. On the other hand, I Sing, a duet with fellow Woodberrys Sue Pomeroy, is very much in the vein of harks to plantation songs like Shortnin’ Bread and English children’s folk tunes such as Froggie Went A Courtin’ while the poignant Red Headed Daughter, has all the hallmarks of classic Jackson Browne.
All but one track was recorded in Cambridge, the exception being gentle acoustic ballad Lowlands, which was put down in Glasgow with Mark Freegard behind the desk and featuring Boo Hewerdine on guitar. She and Hewerdine clearly got on well, the pair of them co-writing Prayers, a simple song of love and faith.
Generally speaking, the songs centre around matters of the heart; but the final two numbers strike more intriguing notes The Navigator, written about a WWII bomber navigator that touches on the cyclical nature of history, and Peter My Brother, a heart-rending tale of an older brother, who put aside ‘keyboard jazz and blues’ to play with guns and knives instead in which she sings ‘I was the chosen daughter and you the lamb to slaughter’.
An impressive debut and, if she has more material of the same calibre and she can shake off some of the more obvious influences, potentially the start of a very fruitful solo career.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released on Clunk & Rattle, out now