It seems fitting that singer/songwriter Liz Green recorded her debut album O Devotion within the urban confines of East London's Hackney, a gritty borough notorious for housing some of London's moodier bands. Hailing from Northern UK, Green should be no stranger to this, for Manchester is a city championed for creating pop music's finest broodier moments.
However musically similar these environments though, I suspect moodiness is not entirely what Green should be seeking. O Devotion carries quite a heavy burden. To listen to it in its entirety requires a sturdy spirit, or perhaps an aged whiskey will get you through, as it is laden with saddened characters and tales of woe. None so evident as in closing track Gallows, "They'll take you to the gallows at nine o'clock sharp... I always knew you'd bring me down".
As well as lyrically, a lot of the tension is surely provided by the instrumentation, french horns and tubulars drag their heavy feet underneath an already grim soundtrack without always needing to be there. For this reason, part of me can't help but feel slightly misled. See, I don't at all doubt the authenticity of Liz Green as an artist. Her live performances are rumoured to be full of fairytales and puppetry, her personality, apparently, intriguing enough to rival that of folk magician Joanna Newsom, but the issue really is that I just don't think the songs themselves are as strong as her identity. Her voice, which has been likened to that of legend Billie Holliday, does bare some resemblance, but really, only in that it permanently floats in a lower register. There isn't nearly enough versatility to carry you through an entire album.
Unlike folk/blues contemporaries Allela Diane or Cat Power, who manage to craft albums which effortlessly weave inspired lyrics and melodies, Liz Green's O Devotion is an album strong on ideas, yet weak on melodies and song structures. Save for a sullen day with that aged bottle of Macallan.
Review by Golden Lady