Reviews

Some Are Lakes

Author: Scott Gordon
10/09/2008 | The Onion | www.theonion.com | Feature
The songs Liz Powell plays with her band Land Of Talk always seem to pull in two directions. The Montreal trio's 2006 debut, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, leads with a punk-rock charge, and at the same time blurs over into the weary perspective of a mature songwriter. Powell clearly has an ear for woozy, comforting textures, so it's rather perfect that Land Of Talk ended up on tour with The Rosebuds while Bon Iver's Justin Vernon was playing guitar with that band. Vernon produced Land Of Talk's new album, Some Are Lakes, just out on Saddle Creek. Lately, Powell's also been swept into the crazy fold of Broken Social Scene. She contributed to the band's soundtrack for the film The Tracey Fragments, sang on BSS member Brendan Canning's solo album Something For All Of Us, and is now a touring member of the unwieldy collective. Not to mention that BSS has also adopted Land Of Talk as a favored opening band. Powell recently told Decider about pulling double duty and fighting the "solo female singer-songwriter" stereotype. Land Of Talk opens for Broken Social Scene tonight.

Decider: What were you trying to do differently on Some Are Lakes?

Liz Powell: With Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, we had two days in the studio to lay it down and one day to mix. That sort of lent itself to the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants way of working, which I love, because then you don't really have time to do over things and think about whether your vocal takes suck. I think that maybe Some Are Lakes is a reaction to playing a lot of [Applause Cheer Boo Hiss] songs for three years. I think I needed to just stay back a bit and soften things up a bit. Justin definitely was into that idea. He definitely was using a lot more discretion than I would've.

D: Overall, Applause was a lot more punk-y and hyper—
LP: Yeah. I'm getting older. I don't really feel like screaming and shouting. I honestly feel like there is a bit of a physiological and subconscious reaction to having done that to my body for three years.

D: You've said that you formed the band to get away from being classed as a "female singer-songwriter" type, but you finish this album with "Troubled," which is basically a solo acoustic song.
LP: I had no intentions of putting that song on the album. That's a song I wrote maybe 10 years ago, and it was one of Justin's favorite songs. When I went to Wisconsin, he immediately sat me down and cornered me and made me record it. I just thought he was doing it for his own pleasure. He managed to slowly sneak that into the tracklisting, which I never would've been comfortable with, but he's like a camp counselor. He's such a diplomatic, positive, persuasive, awesome dude. I'm glad he did it. That's a part of me that I do like, I just didn't want to be, in terms of the music industry, the solo female singer-songwriter with the guitar.

D: As a female artist, do you feel you have to force people away from comparing you to other female artists that you don't really sound like?
LP: There's easy comparisons to, like, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and Emily Haines. Those are all beautiful, talented individuals who happen to be women, and I just think it's funny that we all get lumped into the same category. It used to be Björk, like when Björk was the big thing of the day. My voice hasn't changed since I was 14, really. It's probably gotten lower and scratchier and I've probably abused it more. If you then compare Björk to Cat Power, it just doesn't add up, so I'm basically chalking it up to "lazy."

D: How does the experience of being in a big group like Broken Social Scene compare with playing in a power trio?
LP: I was [initially] just playing on three [BSS] songs [live], but by the time we got to the Philly show I was onstage for every song, just making up guitar parts. They were calling out chords to me. It's kind of the perfect environment for someone like me who's not a concrete, technical player. It's more free, vibe-based.

D: You've mentioned that you'd like to play some instrumental Land Of Talk songs. Are you going to try any on this tour?
LP: There's a couple new songs that I would love to just not add vocals to and somehow introduce another element. I never even thought of just incorporating [instrumentals] into the live show. If we are traveling 1,800 miles to get somewhere, I don't want to make it just a total jerk-off-fest for me: "Hey, check out this new 18-minute jam called… 'Me'!" I can get all that out now with Broken Social Scene, actually. That could totally take care of my need for instrumentals.
Some Are Lakes

Some Are Lakes

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