Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered 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 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.
Hers are 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.
It's hard to tell if her songs are songs meant for the evening or songs to make you want to get 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.
*Essay originally published November, 2009