Artist: Liz Green
Title: Displacement Song
Label: Play It Again Sam
Release Date: 22 August 2011
Cat Number: PIASR536S
Formats: LTD 7” Vinyl & Digital
Liz Green press quotes:
‘Britain’s new cracked blues sister’ Mojo
“Her delicate songs are a perfect knot of grassroots jazz, muddy blues and homespun folk, and recall the kiss of a needle on a brittle 78… you sense that once the world gets wind of her elegant, spooky songs there will be nowhere for Green to hide”
“Lilting folk, spiked with venom and stalked by sadness” Sunday Times
“Hauntingly beautiful” The Sun
“Astonishing raw blues” Time Out
“Part Joanna Newsom, part thirties-starlet” Esquire
“An enthralling other-worldly combination of Billie Holiday and Judy Garland” Flux
“It is what it is, when it is, whatever it is, that’s what it is” Liz Green June 2011
Heads up! The delightful Liz Green is freshly signed to Play It Again Sam and re-emerges after a hiatus that has seen her tour like crazy, bag this new single and record her debut album proper O, Devotion! with Liam Watson at Toerag Studios, that will finally see the light of day in November, following ‘Displacement Song’ on 22 August.
May well you wonder how three years has managed to elapse since the last single ‘Midnight Blues’. Her debut 7” ‘Bad Medicine’ was a year before that, when she won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and a slot on the Pyramid Stage, paving the way for a slew of high profile UK festival gigs and international tour jaunts, not to mention showers of press accolades. Both singles were limited to 500 vinyl copies and are now highly collectable.
Given the fact she is the UK’s missing link between early Jolie Holland & Karen Dalton and B-side ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen’ emanates from the late thirties, we can safely say that Liz’s music is timeless and patience is a virtue they say when waiting for good things? The wait was well worth it.
After being initially somewhat shy of the stage, she is now a formidable presence and a charismatic figure. “I like a rowdy crowd,” she says now. “I like a dark, dingy room. Like the floorboards have been breathing in passing life for hundreds of years. I like to just start singing and see what happens. It’s an invitation, of sorts”.
That partly explains the delay in new recordings, as the live side of things took on a life of its own. Aside from the fact that Liz Green is the kind of songwriter who is equal parts hard graft, and in touch with the ephemeral magic of the songwriting muses. As she herself explains, “Seriously. I have song black outs. For the most part I don’t know how they came into being – or what was going through my head when I wrote them. I don’t plan them. They just come out like that. It’s quite nice though – it gives a brilliant sense of editorial perspective.”
Taken from the forthcoming album O, Devotion!, ‘Displacement Song’ is a smokily enveloping, jaunty New Orleans jam (from the North of England), drawing us deep into her evocative realm of language. “Tragi-comic pop” as she likes to call it), hitched to a little pah-rum-pah-pah brass band, with a typically astonishing Liz Green story around it. Finally, the recordings are now mirrored by the live performance.
“It’s a song for everyone who has had to give up something and move on. In my head I see images of people who have become refugees. Quite literally carrying everything they can take. But it’s informed by the idea of resistance, too. Primo Levi says in If Not Now, When – ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’. That’s what I am saying in the lyrics ‘Don’t look to me, you’ve got to carry your own weight’.
“It came into its own when we played it at a city-wide demonstration - Stuttgart 21. The whole town had turned out to protest against the destruction of their train station and historic park. Everyone. It was incredible. So the promoter cancelled our gig and dragged us and a small PA to the park where we played by candlelight. It was the best gig we had all tour! And the song suddenly meant something quite different.”
Accompanying ‘Displacement Song’ is ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen’, an Andrews Sisters cover done in a rough-n-ready lo-fi fashion with Liz’s tour bandmates Gus Fairbairn (saxophone) and Sam Buckley (double bass).
“It literally translates as ‘To Me You Are Beautiful’. It’s as lyrically lovely as it is melodically. Simple and utterly joyous. Apparently it was a favourite record at Nazi parties during the war. And The Andrews Sisters were one of Hitler’s favourite bands! Their records were smuggled into Germany under the name of ‘Hitler’s Marching Songs’. The irony being, the title was originally ‘Bei Mir Bistu Shein’ – a Yiddish song. When the Nazis found this out, the song was banned. Of course.
“It sounds as funny and desperate and lo-fi as it should. I’m really happy that it’s being used just as it is. We had such a laugh recording it.”
The final track ‘The Wall’ is a promo-only bonus track. Lucky you etc.
Someone once mentioned that Liz Green reminded them of the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you put on an old jacket and find a five pound note in the pocket. Perfect really.