I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have always thought of Liza Victoria aka Lisa/Liza as a gentle soul. That, together with her raw openness about how she feels is something I greatly admire about her. In late November last year, the singer, songwriter and guitarist took time out to talk about her EP Songs Bloom, a collection of unreleased songs. Across our conversation I sensed she was on the right side of her ongoing struggle with chronic illness. She really is an incredible young woman. As much as her vulnerabilities are debilitating she somehow always manages to pull herself up. Often in times when she has felt well enough to write she chronicles her experiences. Writing about the things that are on her mind, I’ve come to realise are very therapeutic and healing to her. It’s no wonder Victoria has seemingly put more of herself into an eight song new album called Breaking And Mending.
Victoria’s emotional transparency, especially through her soft and sensitive voice, is without a doubt her greatest strength. It makes the resulting new album feel like an exploratory journey, flying freely, unfiltered with warm strumming from her trusty Eastman. It’s fair to say the album as a whole is sonically mostly Victoria and her guitar. Though you never get the feeling of being cheated (of hearing an array of other elements) because every song beautifully meanders cleverly in mood and arrangement.
As Victoria continues to evolve as a songwriter, I’ve noticed the risks she’s willing to take. While the core of the songs on her fifth studio album Breaking And Mending definitely serve as a natural evolution of her story, her fears and trauma, she’s also interested in pushing her songwriting further into the ether.
The album starts of slowly and maybe a little quieter than usual, with the track Felt Twice, which immediately comes from a place of loss and pain Victoria has felt. She sings, “Can you find me, all on your own?/ Can you shake me from a world of my own?/ Can you see me, how I want to be seen?/ Can you take me where I want to go?/ Where I want to go.”
After this beginning, the call of Victoria’s voice becomes stronger on songs like Held Together and Fight for You. I especially love the pedal steel on the latter. It also contains Victoria’s favourite lyric, ‘Sometimes I get the feeling like, some sort of time-machine reeling by, running off of water and sunlight, and love when I find you a fight, a fight.” Victoria bests describes it as “an expression of pain and confusion, and one that I feel validates my experience of trying to be in the moment, but very much having to fight for it. It’s easy to tell someone to let go, to be present, but the thing is, someone with my condition has to experience such a journey to be able to do that….”
It’s fair to say every track on this album has its own truth that is pertained to Victoria. Interestingly, maybe the one thing that feels new to this album is Liza’s ode to her musical influences. It’s hard to imagine a song like John Prine on a previous album. It feels like a song that had to be written given Victoria’s deep respect for the folk-legend and his untimely death to covid during the first chaotic year of the pandemic. Then, there is the title track, a song about Judge Sill’s “The Kiss” and what it means to Victoria, especially the contradictions of life.
It’s difficult at times to choose a favourite track of Breaking And Mending, however some of the songs that I keep coming back to are Kiss The Flower, a song about how friendship helps you to grow. An extension of that theme is also found on Wild Fox, which is in essence a beautiful ode to love where Victoria sings, “Most of the time I’m/ Lying beside you/ Crying beside you/ Laughing beside you/ So let me remind you/ Let me remind you/ How I love you, How I love to.”
Last but not least I’m besotted with Tree Line, a song Victoria wrote while watching the sunset and what it means to her in a cosmic or spiritual way. It’s a song that least surprises me because Victoria often finds inspiration from Maine’s transformative wilderness where she lives. It’s the perfect conclusion to an album about both pain and healing. Interestingly, how often are sunset seen as the end of things. But as we know a new dawn awaits, as a promising turning point, hopefully a positive one especially for Liza Victoria.
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