Lisa/Liza's Deserts of Youth is an album of letting it fall.
Deserts of Youth is the intimate portrait of Portland, Maine artist Lisa/Liza’s (real name Liza Victoria) life and past. Victoria describes the album as “... about the parts of our past that remain within us, and visiting these landscapes with recognition of ourselves instead of a meditation on what has been lost, or is no longer a resource or a path we can use.” It can at times match the nuance and spirit of German folk singer Sibylle Baier, whose reel-to-reel recordings highlighted her emotional struggle and the quiet moments that shaped her experience in the early 1970s. In this vein, Lisa/Liza explores her memory banks in Deserts of Youth and allows her latest effort to reveal each ridge and crevice in the bottom of her brain. The results are a confident and intimate portrayal of nostalgia.
"Century of Woods” opens the album in a sweep, inviting the listener into a performance of self-actualization. Lisa/Liza’s voice dips and wanes into emotion’s past and comes up for air in lighter moments. She plucks and masterfully story tells on guitar in a compelling scene of aerial vocals. It’s an album so intimate that it allows you only a few moments to interpret the emotional and breathy lyrics. Her guitar impersonates a violin in all of it’s warmth and ability to wrap around each track delicately. Throughout the album, Victoria attempts to solemnly let go of memories that have gripped and held tight for years, allowing her listeners the same escape and quietude. As a Maine-born artist the album also presents something chillier or colder by nature, where deserts are a far away and even elusive image.
To backtrack a bit, Victoria has been releasing lo-fi folk since 2012. Her early work holds the heavy heart that we still feel in Deserts of Youth and its intense emotional undertones tend to grip you by the throat, track by track, tape by tape. Since the cassette release of King, ME and the 2013 New Year release of Humble Noon, the listener can evaluate how far her endeavors have traveled. Early tracks hold an audible hum as if their recordings were done far off in a small cabin in the dead of winter. In 2014, Victoria released The First Museum, a less lo-fi and brighter effort that is consistent with Lisa/Liza’s pure and untethered approach to songwriting. In the album’s title track she sings: “I brought things to my room that I stole from my dreams.” The album feels lonely and raw from start to finish: “No one’s gonna buy you roses ‘cause you’re down / No one’s gonna buy you roses in this town."
In Deserts of Youth, Lisa/Liza has gifted listeners with refreshing material, still bright, that is consistent with her authentic folk sound. She creates waves of blue and grey throughout each song. The key to every album she has released to date is in her consistency. Victoria has weaved her fans a beautiful blanket but in each stitch a distinction or a theme. Deserts of Youth is an album of ‘letting it fall’ - a way for Victoria to release the tension that each of us holds within our consciousness until we can process the shame or sorrow or joy that we’ve carried with us for so long. In this effort, she has succeeded at creating an honest and forthcoming work for her own and the listener’s liberation.
Listen to Lisa/Liza on bandcamp.
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Attia is a writer, musician, and researcher for a women's health non-profit living in NYC. She's on a journey towards illuminating the stories and art of those often left voiceless. You can follow her mission or just say hi on Instagram and Twitter.