Elizabeth Ziman might need to go around the block a few more times before she fully comes into her own, but she’s got enough lyrical, vocal and instrumental chops to fuel a trip to the moon.
Her triple threat plays out with high impact on Elizabeth & The Catapult’s new “Like It Never Happened” as she comes across as smart and relatable, engaging and provocative.
The jazzy/chamber-pop release is clean and carefully constructed, while her charismatic personality keeps the sometimes-precise arrangements (powered by her piano and guitar work) from sounding overly formal. For instance, layered vocals lilt through the air creating an a cappella chorus on “Wish I Didn’t” while Ziman goes on a (controlled) foul-mouthed rant in the foreground (“I wish I had some common sense”). And the buoyant keyboard punch of opener “Happy Pop,” is punctuated by her declaration, “Here’s my happy pop song … I think I wrote it in my sleep.”
Ziman is fully capable of being the next Lily Allen, all snarky and irresistibly wry. However, there’s more than enough heavy lifting going on with “Like It Never Happened,” as with the sobering twist in the dreamy context of the title track, where she sings, “Once the lights come up, it will be like it never happened – and is that really such a bad thing?” Denial carries through into the elegant folkish strains of “Someday Soon”: “Someday soon nothing will matter/But what we choose to remember/No, not even the truth/’Cause we’ll make that up.”
She also finds room for straightforward tenderness in the moving piano-bar ballad “True Love Will Find You in the End.”
Ziman’s range is breathtaking, bringing to mind everyone from Lorde in the alluring heft of “Salt of the Earth” to Rasputina in the dark cabaret of “Sugar Covered Poison.” Some might also hear traces of Sheryl Crow, Shirley Manson, Lykke Li … yet Ziman isn’t imitating any of these women. And with more exposure and more material under her belt, she’s likely to leave all comparisons behind as she clearly defines herself.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2014, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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