On the opener of her 2015 album Two, Nashville-based, singer-songwriter Liza Anne sings, "Oh, it seems I'm my own worst enemy, I'm doing it to myself." Now with her new album Fine But Dying, her debut for Arts & Crafts, she continues that painful, passionate journey through her personal relationships as well as her relationship with herself, except this time with more maturity and awareness than ever before. Sonically, she's stepped things up too - turning her cinematic, atmospheric softness into a more unapologetic attitude with blaring electric guitar. Anne has grown up, she's been through a lot, and she's not about to sugar coat it for you.
Right before the release of her album this month, Anne stopped by Baeble HQ to perform some softer renditions of her new songs. Much like her album title suggests, she looked fabulous on the outside - donning bright red pants with a matching beret - but offered up songs that suggested something different. She performed her lead single "Paranoia," a song that, like the singer, sounds fun on the surface but is actually about dealing with anxiety. For us, she stripped it of all its fuzz and grit and turned it into a minimalistic, glimmering slow-burner. In addition to that she performed "Socks" and "Closest To Me," a song about the struggles of hurting the ones you love.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking cut though, was her performance of the album closer, "I'm Tired, You're Lonely." "It started a very real fight one time, but now the fight is over and it's one of my favorite songs," Anne shared before beginning. Anne explores the dynamic between two people who need different things as they both go through a very slow break up. It's a stunning song on its own, but there's something about the live version that causes the hair on the back of the viewer's neck to stand up. Anne has some serious personal demons, but she sure knows how to turn them into something spectacular.
Oh, I'm gonna hit you where it hurts 'Cause I know what to say to make it worse. I always get the last word in Somehow, I never seem to learn Closest to me - Damn, we're here doing this. We're in New York for this session. I want to move to New York, so every time I'm here, I try to just act like I live here, do very mundane things. Say what you wanna Say how you wish I could feel Say what you wanna Say how you wish I could feel something Nevermind how I'm keepin' as of right now I'm losin' it As if I had it in the first place Runnin' water in the bathroom It's 3 a.m. and I can't sleep I don't even recognize me Ooh, ooh paranoia I can't avoid you Say what you wanna Say how you wish I could feel like the others Another lover that you had before Say what you wanna Oh say how you wish I could feel Like you had before Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh… Let me at it I'm tired of it pesterin' me I can't get rid of it ' Cause killin' it's like pullin' my own teeth One, two, three I stop because it's bleedin' and I realize My nervous mind It's stuck inside of Ooh, ooh paranoia I, I can't avoid you Say what you wanna say how you wish I could feel like the others Another lover that you had before Say what you wanna, oh say how you wish I could feel Like you had before ooh… Ooh...There you go Sayin' I'll be fine, but I won't You brush it under the bed another time But it won't stay down Crawlin' into my mind and on my mouth On my mouth Ooh, ooh paranoia I can't avoid you say what you wanna Say how you wish I could feel like the others another lover that you had before Say what you wanna, oh say how you wish I could feel Like you had before Ooh, ooh, ooh… Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh Paranoia, I… - I'm from St. Simons Island, Georgia, so this tiny little speck of land in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Georgia. Feel like the others another lover that you had before say - My aunt is, like, my absolute muse, she has been since I was a kid. She and her now-husband would make me these, like, mixtapes when I was growing up. They literally would say on there, like, "Stay away from, like, the Backstreet Boys of today," and it would have Joni Mitchell, and The Cranberries, and just all of the good '90s music that was going on. And so, I think they were kind of my first door into, like, what I now look at as my main influences, and then I also discovered Feist when I was, like, in the seventh grade and I… "Wow. She's amazing. She created a whole universe to live in. " And I think that was the first time I started seeing it as artistry rather than just, "Oh, a song's on in the car while I'm on the way to school. " I started to think of it is as, like, "This is something that someone works to create. " It wasn't until maybe five years later that I started to really think of what it would look like to make my own world like that, but yeah. I don't know. One, two, three, four. The first time we made love I wore socks Now we're just worn out And maybe just worn down We just fu-.... I guess everybody grows out of some things and into others don't we? But I hate the thought of growing out into another, you're my favorite pair Don't wanna throw you in the wash No, I wouldn't dare lose any bit of what I love about you Don't wanna lose you like that It's been a year now and I still feel good And that's strange enough Too soon to know it But for now, I want this You're the one I see it all with I guess everybody knows The younger you are The less you're sure of most things But I hate the thought of growing out into another You're my favorite pair Don't wanna throw you in the wash No, I wouldn't dare lose any of bit of what I love about you Don't wanna lose you like that You're my favorite pair Don't wanna throw you in the wash No, I wouldn't dare Lose any bit of what I love about you Don't wanna lose you like that - My new album is called "Fine But Dying," and I think in all my other records…I'm really proud of them still. I look back and I'm like, "Wow. I did that thing," but this one feels like I truly sat with myself, and truly looked in the mirror, and really, really worked on things through it, like emotionally and mentally. And I just feel like a stronger, more realized person after this record. We went to Paris and we went to this place called le frate montagne, which is just right outside, and it's this beautiful, old French mansion that my friend Olivier kind of renovated in the '70s. It was wild. It's where Feist recorded "The Reminder" and I love that record, so I guess sometime in high school, I saw the documentary on that and was like, "One day I'm going to do that. " And then… I never want to make records anywhere else now. Very spoiled. Oh, I'm gonna hit you where it hurts 'Cause I know what to say to make it worse I always get the last word in Somehow I never seem to learn Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Oh, no, no I speak before I know what I mean talk through my ego, not my thinkin' Stomp around and I throw myself a tantrum Even if it's with the best intention And don't give me that look that I hate Like every word I said was a mistake. How'd you really think it would go over, honey? You were warmin' up to my cold shoulder Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Oh, no, no Ooh, ooh, ooh… Ooh… Ooh, ooh, ooh… Yeah Yeah Yeah, yeah I know I know I know t hat I should apologize, apologize, apologize, apologize, Oh, but I'm sorry I'm sorry Oh God, I'm sorry. Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me And closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Oh, no, no. Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me Closest to me. I always hurt the closest ones to me. Oh, no, no, no Ooh, ooh, ooh… Ooh, ooh… Closest to me I always hurt the closest ones to me - I, like, can't not write. Like, even if I wasn't writing songs, I would be writing, to some extent. There's things in my head that I just can't get out, so I think what… My mom bought me a little journal when I was, like, eight. And I think I just realized so early on that I could escape my head in a certain way, and that was my way to escape my head and to kind of make sense of my panic, and my depression and stuff. And so, like, I go crazy…like, if I go a week or two without getting something out on paper, it just feels like I'm just bloated with anxiety. Like, it just feels like it needs some way to get out and it doesn't, and so I think writing has just…I don't know. It's saved me for sure. 'Cause I'm tired And you're lonely - There's a weird thing that happens when you perform something that truly means something to you where you end up…like, you go through this painful thing and you write it down, but then you perform it and you have, like, this communal environment to it all of a sudden, whereas before it was a very isolating emotion you were feeling. So I kind of feel that, like, when I…not that everything I ever write will be released, but it always is very rewarding to do that. Like, I've never thought of it as, like, a burden. It kind of feels like one of the most important parts of it is kind of seeing how other people find themselves in the things you've been through. So, this one's called "I'm Tired, You're Lonely. " and it started a very real fight one time, but the fight is over and now, this is one of my favorite songs. What does that say of me When I know it's you callin' But I let it ring? And tell me What's left of us? Should this house feel as empty as it does? Where's the obvious light? 'Cause I'm tired and you're lonely Screamin', "Babe, console me" But I've already given All that I have Has it all just come to this Both wanting what the other cannot give? And are we still tryin' to prove This isn't somethin' we'll grow out of like old shoes? Where's the obvious light? 'Cause I'm tired and you're lonely Screamin', "Babe, console me" But I've already given all that I have And if I was a softer person I could give you the kindness you are deservin' but I'm not And maybe that's just it Where's the obvious light? Where's the obvious light? Where's the obvious light? Oh, who's gonna find it this time? 'Cause I'm tired And you're lonely Screamin', "Babe, console me" And I'd stop it, honey If only my heart didn't break so slowly - Cool.
Growing up, people would always say I was too happy to be depressed, or too social to have anxiety, says Liza Anne Odachowski, the critically acclaimed songwriter better known these days by her stage name Liza Anne. In their eyes, because I was one thing, I couldnt also be something else. I think we all exist in duality, though. I can be everything and nothing all at once.
Duality is at the core of Liza Annes arresting new album, 'Fine But Dying, her debut release for indie powerhouse label Arts & Crafts. Synthesizing the elegant sincerity of Angel Olsen with the wry lyricism of Courtney Barnett and the unapologetic candor of Feist, the music is both tough and vulnerable, bold and withdrawn, a helping hand and a middle finger. Firing on all cylinders with distorted alt-rock guitars and explosive drums one minute, hushed and delicate the next, its an eclectic collection that reflects the messy complications of growing up in the modern age, as the 23-year-old grapples with the fallout of falling in love, reckons with the patriarchy, and stares down the panic disorder she refuses to let define her. 'Fine But Dying is the sound of an artist taking total control of her life and her art, a proud misfit crafting an aggressively infectious kiss-off to an industry (and a society) thats tried to box her in from day one.
Being a young woman playing music in Nashville, everybody had their opinions of who I should be and what I should do next, says Liza Anne, whose music is as decidedly un-Nashville as it gets. They wanted me to be happier and softer and easier because people are conditioned to only experience women in entertainment as a force of goodness and kindness and light. But just because Im a woman doesnt mean I have to be soft and happy and nurturing all the time. Its pretty inhumane to expect a human being to represent only one side of themselves. We embody too many contradictions.
'Fine But Dying follows Liza Annes self-released 2015 breakout album, 'Two, which garnered more than 20 million streams worldwide. NPR praised the records deeply introspective songwriting and searing reflections, while Nylon called it a stunningly somber album and dubbed Liza an artist with the keen ability to turn even the smallest of feelings into a sweeping song. The record earned her dates with Joseph, Margaret Glaspy, The Oh Hellos, and Bears Den, among others, as well as festival slots from ACL to Daytrotter Downs.
Though Liza Anne commands a stage like she was born to do it, a career in music was far from her mind as she grew up in the quaint, sheltered community of Saint Simons Island, Georgia. She discovered songwriting one summer at sleepaway camp, when a guitar class helped her realize that the notebooks shed been filling with poetry and prose could be set to melodies. Raised in a deeply religious household, Lizas first taste of public performance came on Sundays when she served as a local worship leader, and though shes since moved on from the church, the experience proved to be formative for her.
I learned at a very young age how to manipulate an entire room full of people to feel what Im feeling, she says with a laugh.
When it came time to cut 'Fine But Dying, Liza Anne brought both her band and her producer, Zach Dyke, to Frances legendary La Frette studio, a 19th century mansion on the banks of the Seine. Dyke and Lizas recording chemistry had been undeniable since they first met during college in Nashville, and though Liza dropped out of school to tour full time, the pairs creative relationship continued to grow deeper and break new ground.
Zach is my best friend and my magic charm, reflects Liza Anne. Working with him just feels like working with your other arm or another part of your brain.
In a six-day whirlwind, they recorded eleven new songs that embodied the raw energy and tense emotion that Liza Anne had long carried in her head but never yet captured on tape.
This is my 'woman at her wildest self album, she says. Its a place for me to express all of the things about womanhood and the human condition that I was experiencing without fear of feeling like Im 'too much or 'not enough. People used to talk about my music in such sweet terms, but they werent sweet things that I was going through. With this record, Im not sugarcoating anything any more.
On album opener Paranoia, Liza Anne weaves together lilting pop sensibilities with moments of frenetic release as she confronts insecurity and doubt. The result is an addictive, Cranberries-meets-St. Vincent gem, and it proves to be a perfect entry point to an album unafraid to bare the multitudes it contains. Lizas crystalline voice is alternately beguiling and jarring as she sets her distress to music on Panic Attack, sends up the hollow phoniness of southern hospitality on Small Talks, and sneers and snarls her way through the third-wave feminist anthem of Kid Gloves. On the gentle but bruising Im Tired, Youre Lonely she channels the eerie beauty of Jeff Buckley, while Closest To Me is a reverb-soaked look in the mirror, and Control faces off against some of the darker voices in her head.
There are moments in the song 'Control that question what it feels like to be in love, says Liza Anne. The whole album is really a catalog of my first few years of falling in love with someone but doubting I had the capacity to actually do it.
'Fine But Dying proves that Liza Anne is a woman with the capacity to do far more than shed ever given herself credit for. By casting off the restrictions of who and what she should be, by writing with unrepentant emotion and without concern for the constructs and confines of femininity, she was able to discover her truest self and create an album of incredible power and vision, one that fully reflects the rich duality of its author.
"This album gave me space to find my voice, says Liza Anne. In the end, I always want to make art that's provocative and that challenges the stereotypes of what women are supposed to be or how they are usually experienced. Songwriting isn't just fun for me, it's necessity. It's my way of escaping my body and inhabiting it at the same time.