For all the work technology has done, for all the new genres of music that seem to be popping up over the past several years and for all of the alt-whatever that consumes a lot of music fans (including myself) sometimes the best way music can be presented is with a beautiful voice and a piano. I am drawn to the piano. I think it is the best instrument in the world. Songs seem to feel so much more important when they are backed by piano. I’m not sure why that is, but they just have a vibe to them that few other instruments can touch.
Elizabeth Zimmerman has a sweet voice. She says a lot of beautiful things. She is often heart wrenching and always captivating. But it’s that piano that does a lot of the conversation on her album Suspended. The notes that ring out match the tone so well, that even if she was singing her grocery list, you get the feeling behind her words without having to even really know what she’s saying. That’s not saying the lyrics are poor, they aren’t, it’s just that she uses her instrument so well that a listener just gets it.
Suspended starts off well. “That Feeling of Fog” blends blues guitar (the great Dylan Boyle from Peace Love and Stuff) with the piano to give a very sultry, smoky vibe that a lot of tracks just don’t seem to grasp. There is an immediate sadness that builds. It is the last half of the album when Zimmerman truly shines. The last four tracks, “Six Gun”, “The Way You Live”, “The Sailor”, and “How to Cope” all capture Zimmerman in her element. Vulnerable, thoughtful, emotional, Zimmerman pours her feelings with a confidence and underlying strength that few achieve. Her voice carries the tracks and they’re almost all just her and her words and thoughts. No overly muddled production, no sea of accompaniment. It is just a beautiful, thoughtful voice and her piano. It’s not just the piano that lands the emotion, but that certainly helps.
I hope more people check this album out, because it certainly feels like it’s flown under the radar a bit. Just know that it is unlike a lot of recent albums. It can feel slow, but it is also beautiful and honest.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 11/14 – 11/20
One of the big three for DMMC festivals, Little Big Fest as normally been a big event for those into roots, acoustic, jazz and jam fans. This year is no different, but there seems to be a bit more to it. Some highlights include Max Wellman, Old Scratch Revival Singers and Mumford’s at House of Bricks, Nemo Orchestra and GoodcaT at Beechwood Lounge and Chad Elliot and Bonita Crowe and the Soul Rebels from New Orleans are at Wooly’s. There is so much more so check out the full lineup at Desmoinesmc.com.
Joanne Shaw Taylor – Gas Lamp 11/14 7pm
Gruff blues-rock from a heavy voiced woman. Skillfully crafted and passionate. Think Stevie Ray Vaughn in a prettier package.