It is said that no (wo) man is an island, entire of itself, but if Liz Green's highly acclaimed debut album O, Devotion! says anything it's that she exists in a certain kind of isolation, as a uniquely exceptional, "eccentric and rather magical" artist, (to borrow words from The Guardian). One does not just stumble across her music to be left unmarked. She gives too much for that. Her first musical missives in 2007, set afloat like so many bottled messages, saw her win Glastonbury's Emerging Talent Competition before finding land in 2011's full length, and now its emboldened follow upHaul Away!, due out via PIAS on 14 April 2014, is set to reach the most distant of shores.
"Haul Away! is about Communication. Language. The Insufficiency of Words. Home. How to Fit in. Escape. Sea. Elemental Forces. The Edge of Something. Travel. The End of Something. Mythology. Love Lost. And Death." And "Obviously, I like to throw some death in there. I don't want anyone to think I've changed too much. Actually, I think only one person dies on the album. The rest is open for debate. I've certainly shown them the way out. If they can't find it, it's their own fault!" Green jokes. Her second album then continues to speak to her unique character (as droll as it is dark) while it also finds her becoming a piece of the continent, a part of the main by realising that these "Lonely little songs need some company". Luckily they have it in the form of a band of friends, who accompany her voice - a wonderfully warm melange of styles - and newly grounded piano compositions, surrounding them in bass, saxophone, drums, tuba, trombone, cello and flute "like a life raft or armbands." Some of them even sound like her "most cheerful" songs to date.
Returning to the venerated and legendary Toe Rag studios to work with O, Devotion! producer Liam Watson because there is no denying Liz and Liam is a winning combination and because she "learnt from the last time round that it's hard to find somewhere to record that I feel at home in.". And although two people found themselves in the same space as they were three years ago, it has been used differently. As far as possible, everything was done live, with all of them in the same room, Green believing "that's how Toe Rag should be used. I like working with the recording devices that are in there. They are tangible and have presence, everything has a history. It makes the whole thing seem more alive. Tape machines will always be slightly different. Over time they develop their own idiosyncrasies. Like humans. Even the mixing is done live to tape. No two mixes will ever be the same. You can't save and carry on a bit later. Everything has life."
"Like O, Devotion!" she notes "some of the songs on it have had a pretty long gestation period. Things creep around my brain for a long time before I can catch them. I don't write quickly. I am not, and will never be, a prolific artist. I am a very slow artist." A quality that can be forgiven when the results are so special. Recording wise this results in a less claustrophobic affair " I feel O, Devotion! was a dry bitter earth of an album" says Green. "And Haul Away! is a breath of the edge of the world. The Ground vs The Sea I suppose. There's more life and more going on. Not so much a homage to what I like. Hopefully it sounds a little more like me."
An eleven song set that begins with the swelling organs of drone-blues love song 'Battle' (sounding like a "distant whirring of a helicopter come to rescue you from the battlefield") and ends, appropriately, with the last song written and recorded by Green and her band 'Bikya', Haul Away! finds its centre in the Etgar Keret-style escapism inspired title track (a short story that's like "Narnia for adults, without the talking animals or heavy christian references"). "It's my favourite song on the album" explains Green of its sea shanty like rhythms and greek mythology explorations. "It's the idea of being the loud and brightly coloured clown in a sea of grey. Feeling like nobody really gets the joke. And wondering if there's somewhere you can go where everyone's a clown. And no-one will look at you weird if you keep falling over. Or your trousers don't fit properly. Or your hair's a bit funny and you keep saying odd things at inappropriate times. And laughing at funerals."
Even though she is reluctant to say so, Haul Away! is also of course about love, a glorious glass-half-full love, (one which sees anti-love stake its claim in unintentionally Nick Cave named album highlight 'Into My Arms') which she is destined to be on the receiving end of the moment people hear the it- from those already enamoured (Jo Whiley, Gilles Peterson, Marc Riley, Nemone, John Kennedy to The Sunday Times calling her debut "sensational") to the people waiting on those distant shores. And with that, another Liz Green chapter opens.
Tracklist: Battle / Haul Away! / Rybka / River Runs Deep / Where the River Don't Flow / Empty Handed Blues / Into My Arms / Island Song / Little I / Penelope / Bikya