Lise' Liddell review

By Lisa Lerner - Houston, TX

    An incredible talent has been released with Lise' Liddell's first CD, "White Heart". Her versatility is amazing, as she takes piano-bar quality tunes like "If I Love Again" (J. P. Murray and Ben Oakland) and Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire", mixing them with her own rocking tunes like "No Thank You, Baby" and "One Night Stand". In between are her most introspective songs, such as "White Heart", "What If", and "Divinity". While "Born Again" and "Anybody's Heartache" have upbeat harmony and island-music tempos, "Wait" has the simplistic grace of a Streisand song, with lyrics and crowning vocals.

    In live performance, Liddell's charisma is wielded to draw fans under her spell. The girl rocks! This energy is released on the new CD: "Take Me Like a Man" and "Rumble" are a combination of Pat Benatar and Grace Slick. Yet Liddell has mastered her own vocal style, with a sexy, soulful growl on these tracks. It would be difficult to choose a favorite, as each song has a life of its own, revealing the artist's pure passion and charm. Recent performances were at The Ale House, Heights Festival, and her CD release party at Rockefeller Hall.

    Rockefeller Hall is a spectacular venue, renovated for hosting private events, and acoustically warm. The room holds 350 seated, 400 standing room only -- Liddell packed them SRO! Backstage, she was covered with lipstick, passing out roses, and telling the bandmembers they were "kickin' ass" (indeed!). For her birthday, guitarist John Staehely presented her with a leopard-skin pill-box hat. While Staehely did play with Bob Dylan for about eight months, the gift did not represent the tune: The bandmembers love to tease Liddell about her leopard-skin shoes. The crowd at Rockefeller Hall was very supportive, and many CDs were sold. The second set began acoustic, and an upright bass, then rocked electric again after the third song. Liddell's live persona is both gentle and fiery, strong vocals layered upon a solid lyrical foundation, interwoven with the talents of each bandmember.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Liddell:

Lerner: When did you begin songwriting/singing?

Liddell: whole life (English major). Songwriting, about 5 years ago, after guitar lessons.

Lerner: What inspired the song, "White Heart"?

Liddell: A love song, with visual reference to white. There is darkness in all of us too, and in order to see the light side, you have to face the dark side. The idea that women get married and have a perfect fantasy life...a man I would rather have is one who would accept me--not as a little princess--but rather as "she can be difficult sometimes, but I'm up for the challenge".

Lerner: Why did you choose to place sixteen tracks on this album?

Liddell: I didn't want to leave anything off that I really love.

Lerner: What's your favorite cut on this CD?

Liddell: "White Heart" and "Divinity".

Lerner: Why did you decide to quit a banking career and begin singing/songwriting?

Liddell: Since a child, I was always singing, and wanted to sing on Broadway. Instead, I got an MBA and went into banking...but wasn't happy, so one day I just quit...The thing that I was supposed to be doing started happening.

Lerner: Are you following your dreams now?

Liddell: Yeah! I'll work harder at this than anything--I love it!

Lerner: You seem to have many supporters...

Liddell: Yes...very fortunate. In the beginning, my family said I was crazy, and now they've all come around. My mom has always been supportive and thought that I should be doing this.

Lerner: What are your goals?

Liddell: Record contract would be fabulous.

Lerner: How would you describe your genre'?

Liddell: Pop/rock/folk.

Lerner: Who inspires you, musically?

Liddell: A lot...I grew up singing Streisand, Ronstadt, Midler. Also love Elton John, K. D. Lang, Nanci Griffith.

Lerner: You referenced Jimmy LaFave in the "Special Thanks" section of the CD.

Liddell: Saw him at Mucky Duck. He totally inspired me, and I was sitting there writing lyrics. At the end of the show he came up and said "What the hell were you writing during my show?" I told him "You inspired me!" So, we became friends, and I go to his shows--I just put him in there 'cause he's a cool guy and I love his music!

Lerner: At the CD release party, you performed a song called "Damage to My Soul", which was very rockin'. What inspired this one?

Liddell: This one will be on the next CD. It's about a relationship gone bad and the character in the song wants to get out of the relationship, but can't.

Lerner: Why did you decide to perform "Only Women Bleed" (Alice Cooper) at the CD release party?

Liddell: Long time ago...liked the lyrics...saw a show about his (Cooper's) life, and he was really interesting. Before, I had thought he was a grunge rocker. I thought, what a wierd thing--for a girl to cover that song...

Lerner: How do you get most of your ideas for songs?

Liddell: All over the place. Things people say, at a concert, experiences...for example "One Night Stand" is a combination of the experiences of 5 different women..."Anybody's Heartache" is the realization that I'm the only one that can solve my problems, so why did I ever think I could solve anyone else's?

    We continued with a philosophical conversation about Oscar Wilde and Kris Kristofferson (i.e., living life to its fullest, and freedom upon self-discovery). In addition to her musical talent, Lise' Liddell is very personable and motivated about future musical possibilities. The song "White Heart" has had airplay on KPFT's Lone Star Jukebox set. Liddell has performed live at The Ale House and Mucky Duck. See a live performance at The Sidecar Pub December 17 . CDs are now available at Cactus (Records) in Houston, and more information will be available at her website.

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