Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Elizabeth Ziman's singing voice is one that soothes you into a comfortable state, sinking you into a cushioned chair of which it's a task to extract oneself from after a long enough sitting spell. It's got a seasoned chanteuse's smokiness and whiskey-ness rubbed into it, affecting its meanderings and tailings, trailing the words she chooses with a faint milkiness, a string of dreaminess that lingers in the air like a feathery cough. She oozes the teary-eyed qualities of a chronic melancholic soul, dripping with the kind of sadness that Karen Carpenter brought to all of her songs, though maybe it's not as afflicting or destructive. It's not so desperate and weepy, just observationally downcast and ready and waiting for the skies to just open up and dump again, cause that's just the treatment that seems to come. It's as if she walks around with an umbrella eternally pressed into a palm, popped open, indoors and outdoors, just waiting for the droplets to start streaking down over the nylon hood above her. It's as if she walks around in galoshes, always, never knowing when the puddles will get think enough to rise above the rubbered soles of her shoes and get into her dry stockings. There's laughing and teasing involved in the song "I Can Always Dream," and there are the stars that are perchance too young to wish on (it doesn't stop the wishing though, because those are the available stars, so what's one to do when wishes are needed?) and the moon is too faint to believe. It's a song full of the crazed, but underplayed wanting that swims through Elizabeth and the Catapult's songs. Ziman's bandmates - drummer Dan Molad and guitarist Pete Lalish - help arrange these lush and lovely thoughts of poisoned dreams and soured desires, making an unrequited love sound as seriously disappointing and magical as does the mid-life crisis of a greedy, "fucking rich" Wall Street executive. There's little separation in the two stories, despite their basic and fundamental currents being nothing at all alike. She sings, so lovingly on "I Can Always Dream," "Perhaps our sweet love is not enough to live on/But I can always dream," and there's really nothing that could hold greater melancholy than the way that she sings that line, the way the plinking, bluesy guitar echoes behind her as if there's an entire valley of commiserators down there just soaking it all in, with their eyes shut closed and the sun and wind in their eyes. It's hard to tell if the songs that make up Elizabeth and the Catapult's debut full-length, "Taller Children," are songs meant for the evening or songs to make you want to getting moving in the morning. An argument could probably be made for both, but they seem to exist in some kind of emotional vortex where we don't know if time will heal the wounds and we're not even sure if the wounds are all that serious. It just might be that things are happening that will be unpleasant, but they won't be lethal. They'll just get turned into these lullabies that will ride shotgun with us through our sunsets and blue moons.
Elizabeth and the Catapult Official Site
Verve Music Group