Lisa Germano
Lullaby For Liquid Pig


It's true that nowadays the notion of what a "singer/songwriter" is has changed considerably since the days of Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro (it's extremely difficult to imagine them being today as influential - and getting the same commercial success - as in the sixties and seventies), but I was quite a bit shocked when I read (in a nice article by Julene Snyder which appeared on on April 1) that Slide - Lisa Germano's most recent CD - had sold about 6.000 copies worldwide. Granted, most of the records I own would never sell that much. But it's strange all the same, given the fact that during the last decade Lisa Germano released albums that were getting more and more artistically successful thanks to a production work that managed to dress and enrich her sad, unadorned music in a very appropriate way. This process was especially apparent on Excerpts From A Love Circus (1996) and Slide (1998). The latter saw Tchad Blake create sonic landscapes which completed - but never detracted from - her songs, in a manner that never diluted their impact while making them easier to digest to the uninitiated listener.

Hence, Lullaby For Liquid Pig is by necessity a self-produced job, on a (very) limited budget. A digital home recording, via Pro Tools. (But there's nothing to fear: the sound has a grainy aura that sounds like a deliberate choice, just as if it had been recorded on an analogue system like "back in the old days"; a choice that - given the appreciation for "lo-fi" - could be welcomed by some fans of (so-called) indie-rock.)

Don't look too closely at the list of contributors. It's mainly a one-woman job, since the performances by Johnny Marr, Neil Finn and Wendy Melvoin are not that important for the final result. There's also Joey Waronker on drums, which together with the bass of Sebastian Steinberg give a dry backbone to some tracks, while Lisa Germano herself plays her usual piano, keyboards, guitars and violin.

The album is pretty monochromatic and intense, and it should discourage any casual listener. It works (or doesn't) when listened to as a whole. Twelve tracks in thirty-six minutes tell of songs as haikus, where even the sing-along or some childlike cadences assume quite a sinister air. It's an extremely fascinating - albeit highly selectively - piece of work, which one could maybe put near to some pages by Syd Barrett or Nick Drake. And which indicates (in an indirect way) how limited is the palette of what's today considered to be acceptable - in terms of feelings - in music, in a society that prizes "feeling good" above all else.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2003 | May 4, 2003