Saddle Creek | Land of Talk | Reviews


Some Are Lakes

Author: Jamie Gadette
10/09/2008 | | | Feature
Elizabeth Powell learned to play music by ear. She doesn't read sheet music and obliquely refers to chord progressions as "shapes." When fellow Montreal natives Broken Social Scene invited her to join their latest tour on vocals/guitars, the former Suzuki method student had good reason to freak out.

"I can't even do covers," she said before one BSS gig. "And now I'm trying to learn vocal parts written for someone like Feist?" Hours later, Powell jumped onstage with confidence, grabbing the mic from Kevin Drew and, basically, just being badass. She realized that "there's something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone-and I've been in my comfort zone for far too long."

Land of Talk's debut EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss is a rough-and-tumble effort which Powell credits to lots of beer, vodka and zero reference point for recording. It's good and sloppy, with the punk sensibility of someone who did two years in Concordia University's music department before breaking that rusty cage and getting the hell out of there. "They attempted to formally train me," she says. "I never conformed."

Powell isn't one for taking orders, especially from third parties who try to mess with a good thing. Before working on the new Some Are Lakes (Saddle Creek, October 7) there wasn't a producer in the world-besides maybe Nigel Godrich-she would let near her pet project.

"I already find it hard enough to get ideas, I don't want too many cooks in the kitchen and I've worked with people in the past who were just too heavy handed," she says.

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon convinced Powell to give him a shot at the boards after hearing a burned copy of For Emma, Forever Ago. After driving dark highways listening to "Re: Stacks" 80 times on repeat, she was sold: "It blew my mind. It changed my life."

Vernon joined Land of Talk at a converted studio church and at the summer lake where Powell's parents first met (Some Are Lakes was mislabeled in the demoing process) to record a full-length LP. It's polished and clean, but maintains an adventurous spirit buoyed by Powell's bizarre phrasings. She might be open to change, but she's never going to settle down.

"You can't really recreate what happened in the studio with Justin," she says. "I'd like to go back to free and wild."
Some Are Lakes

Some Are Lakes

LP / CD / MP3