Album Review: Lizzie No – Vanity

On her engaging second album Vanity, New York’s Lizzie No expands her sound and contemplates themes such as doomed love and loneliness.

The Greek myth of Narcissus inspired the opening song and title of the album. In that story the hero was said to have rejected all the women who loved him, before he became distracted by his own reflection and stared at it until he died. One of the women he rejected was the nymph Echo, who was drawn to him despite the fact she knew loving such a man could only ever be a futile obsession. In the song the narrator is a kind of modern Echo who has been warned about ‘turning men into gods/ treating love like it’s vanity’ and yet she can’t help breaking her own heart. The narrator finishes the song by accepting her own part in the downfall of her own relationships, even if that realisation leaves her confused and uncertain about her future.

Compared to her quiet, folkier debut Hard Won, the sound of this song is much stronger, inspired by Americana greats like Sheryl Crow and Tom Petty. This extends into the second song, Born and Bred, with its grittier guitars and rockier feel. This new style suits her voice and her message, about troubled relationships and uncertain identities. Deep Well Song is also bluesy and dark, with some nice bite to the guitars. Lyrics like She’s looking down a deep well/ she don’t want to be saved tells you much about the tone of these songs.

There’s still some of her old folky style on this album, a song like Labor Day starts with a quiet strum but eventually blossoms into something more complex and layered. Loyalty too is an understated moment of reflection, her harp making a welcome return. Both songs seem to have ideas of loneliness and restlessness at their core.

Similarly Pity Party is a knowingly self aware moment (what a great song title and good band name too). And hey we’ve all thrown one or two of these for ourselves, so you can’t help but identify with her self loathing. The lyrics remind us that nothing ever goes the way you plan. All we can do is try not throw the towel in when things get rough.

Album closer Channels is the most country inspired song on the record – it has some sweet fiddle and includes a Lyle Lovett reference so it’s pretty perfect sounding song to end this extremely enjoyable album.

Vanity showcases Lizzie No’s thoughtful lyricism and fantastic voice, while also pushing her sound in interesting new directions. Take a good look at this one and you will find much to admire here.

listen/ buy: https://lizzieno.bandcamp.com/album/vanity

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