Album Review Liz Phair - Soberish

Liz Phair - Soberish

‘Soberish’ sounds more like her early work, with its lo-fi stylings and ramshackle guitars.

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We have come to know many Liz Phairs. There is the Liz Phair familiar to most, the Liz Phair who upended the singular understanding of the ‘male rocker’ dynamic with her influential debut ‘Exile In Guyville’. There is the ‘Liz Phair’ Liz Phair, from her shift to major-label pop-rock. Then, finally, there is simply Liz Phair, the musician, writer and mother, who wrote the memoir titled Horror Stories. This is the Liz Phair most apparent on her latest record and first over a decade, ‘Soberish’, and perhaps it was the true Liz Phair all along. On ‘Soberish’, Liz returns to working with Brad Wood, who produced both ‘Exile In Guyville’ and ‘Whip-Smart’. ‘Soberish’ sounds more like her early work, with its lo-fi stylings and ramshackle guitars. Lyrically, this record teases her more sentimental side, but even then, she openly admits to not wanting to reveal her true self to the listener: “I don’t wanna talk about it / ‘Cause talking about it makes me sad,” she sings on opener ‘Spanish Doors’. She drops inklings of herself at her most personal, though still these vignettes are sprinkled sparsely; “I’m meant to be sober, but the bar’s so inviting,” she narrates on the title track. “I don’t have the guts to tell you that I feel safe / … I feel great,” she confides across light guitars and an airy melody. Thematically, it is not a return to ‘Exile In Guyville’ - or as culturally significant - but it doesn’t need to be. Her greatest wish when she first broke into the music industry was to see more female musicians in the rock scene; and now she has got her wish. Her work is done - and now she has time for herself. “What I was longing for back in the early part of my career had happened!” she recalls in the accompanying blurb. “Everywhere you looked, on social media, there were women making their own music, fronting bands, it was their vision, they weren’t just women in a band, they weren’t just songwriters, they were the entire authors of the vision, head to toe. And it was so exciting!” On ‘Soberish’, Liz Phair just wants you to know she’s doing alright.


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