In a review for Little Village Magazine, Kent Williams writes that Elizabeth Moen’s debut album “seems to have come — as the best things sometimes do — out of nowhere.” I can’t think of a better way to describe how Moen’s undeniable talent just sort of sneaks up on you and totally blows you away.
I can just imagine having seen her playing in some Iowa City coffee shop a few years ago and leaving broken and obsessed, telling all of my friends how urgently they *need* to find an opportunity to see her perform, having to be told I need to stop talking about how urgently they *need* to find an opportunity to see her perform.
Her debut album is perfect showcase of her deceptively powerful voice, both as a singer and a writer. Songs like “Tangled Strings” and “Easier Said Than Done” come off as endearing missives from a heartbroken romantic that is coming to grips with having to grow up in an increasingly unromantic world, but “Songbird” is the true highlight. It’s almost hard to believe, when you listen to that first track, that it wasn’t recorded in 1962. It’s a gentle, patient, unassuming love song that allows Moen to flaunt her talent and her sorrow. It is winning and true.
Her style is reminiscent of some of the best singer-songwriters from the old days like Joni Mitchell and Carole King, but there’s just something else about her voice that sets her apart, something a little more modern and a little more timeless. The way it cracks and whistles and shimmers feels almost seismic, elemental. Sometimes it squawks at you from thousands of feet overhead, sometimes it engulfs you slowly and almost imperceptibly, sometimes you can just feel it slithering around your toes.
Every time I see her, it just seems like her music is so much more than would have been necessary to fill out the room, almost as if it would only feel at home out in some vast, untamed landscape where it would have room to breathe and roam, as if somehow the stage and the audience and the city around us are holding the music back, caging it in in some way, preventing it from being all that it could be.
IPR’s Studio One Featuring Liz Moen
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