Monday, March 19, 2012

Concert Review: ELIZA RICKMAN (3-13-12)

                Eliza Rickman a Beauty From the Past

Kevin Kenly Photography
The Badlander


                Eliza Rickman is quite the individual, musician, and traveler.  A solo unique act out of Los Angeles, Eliza has a style and presence about her that can only be fully explained by seeing her in action on stage sharing with the crowds her vocals, her hauntingly beautiful music, the toys she uses to create rare sounds, stories about her life, and a vintage 40s upper class European style that fits like a glove. Musically she is as gifted as I have seen with thinking outside the box as well as having vocals that can be related to Fiest and PJ Harvey; they have an eerie beautiful sound to them that only draws you in more and more as if you have become spell bounded by a ghost. Eliza is quite the adventurer as well, if that’s what you want to call it, but it is most definitely what word I would use to describe an artist travelling the country for three plus months by herself in her fitting white prius.  One of those dates on the three month schedule saw her landing in Missoula for a second year in a row playing at The Badlander on a Tuesday (3-13-12) to promote her new full length CD release called “O, You Sinners”.

Kevin Kenly Photography
                The free show started with Eliza taking the stage standing off to the side of her popular toy piano with two microphones in front of her and a pedal loop situated perfectly below. She calmly without saying a word went into creating vocal sound effects into one mic looping it through the speaker system packaging it together some clapping as well as a bell, and just like that an imaginary choir was established that would be the background music for her song. She then moved to the other mic starting the song, and swallowing everyone whole with her opera like vocals. With everyone taken back by what had just happened as well as Eliza’s off the charts creativity and originality she moved over to her toy piano, which was housing a vintage almost scary doll. She then broke into “Devils Flesh & Bone” off of her new album. After establishing that she was the real deal with two songs and an array of toys/instruments that you would never expect to be used to create music she started into her third song “Over Cold Shoulders”. This song in practically really focused on her vocals, which I could talk about in this whole review if need be and the beauty they create. Her range and sound is something that makes you think of classic opera mixed with Celine Dion and a twist of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. “Black Rose”, which you would definitely consider a hit off the new album, was played next with the toy piano and some foot stomping leading the way. The song seemed to be a faster paced version and with lyrics such as “you reap what you sew, take this black rose”, you get the sense many of her songs are for specific people. An artist who seems to be extremely comfortable with crowds as well as enjoying the awkwardness that is established between seeing new faces and performing for them she talked about the toy piano, how it is easy to travel with, the sound it creates that goes hand in hand with her, and that she does play a big girl piano throughout the whole recorded album. The next song played “Start with Goodbye, Stop with Hello” is the only song recorded on the new album with the toy piano, which was fitting as she performed the song. A basic song that consists of only two things, the distorted bell sounds of the toy piano and her vocals; it was one of the most breathtaking performances I have ever seen. You could feel the emotion she has put into the song and as she sang it you got the sense that she sings this song every time with everything she has for a specific person hoping one day it will be heard. She then went back to the vocal looping playing a song that she said has become a crowd favorite “White Words”. A song with not to many words, the whole concept of the song is based around her un-denying ability to create the ghostly church choir background music using different vocal ranges and sound effects through the loop maching. At the end of the song she got down and by hand faded out the loop she had created leaving it trapped in the walls of The Badlander for ages to come. The other popular song “Cinnamon Bone” was played next. The whole time I pictured her as Snow White as she sang walking through the forest as the dwarfs and animals played toys while walking with her intrigued by her voice. Eliza then sat down and brought out the accordion talking about how she had taken lessons from a man with a huge handlebar mustache and stating that she would only trust taking accordion lessons from a man with that kind of mustache. One of the most personable and gorgeous musicians I have ever seen she started the next song with accordion in hand playing “Coming up Roses”. Hands down the best song on the album, right from the start you are overtaken with emotions as you hear her vocals start the song and listen to the lyrics that may be some of the most breathtaking lyrics I have ever heard. With lyrics such as “tell me your secrets, I will ask you no questions”, “ I love you – I love you, the darkest part of you, writing the sweetest song”,  “jump over your hedges, stand under your branches, were coming up roses indeed”, and “darling divine your cutting my bones with words you won’t say” I found myself frozen to the hardwood floor of The Badlander with chills running down my spine wishing she was singing this song to me.  Quite honestly it was one of the most powerful out of body feelings I have ever felt during a concert, making me almost become slightly scared of the power Eliza has produced through her music. A cover song of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, was perfectly done giving the song an edge most people didn’t expect existed, and ending the set for the night.

Kevin Kenly Photography

                One of the most unique individuals I have ever had the privilege to see, Eliza is a most see live act. Never have I caught myself just staring and getting lost in my own mind more then when I saw her play live. Her music is something that should be put into a time capsule and buried away to show people 50 years from now what music should be and has the potential to be. She is an artist creating something that speaks volumes to who she is as a person, and has developed a sound that is eye-catching to say the least. She will take you back no matter who you are, and I guarantee male or female you will develop a crush on this extraordinary talent and human. Well played Eliza, well played!

Newest CD:  O, You Sinners

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