Liz Brasher Painted Image Review
By: Griff Stevens
The south is ripe with stellar soul shoes to walk in, from James Brown to Sharon Jones to Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett just to name a few. Soul singer Liz Brasher sites her adopted hometown of Memphis and her youthful stomping groups of North Carolina, where she was raised in a musical, multi-ethnic household as an influence in her southern flavored sound. Brasher explains, “I’m half Dominican, half Italian, and also Southern.” Brasher grew up like most great soul singers did in the church. Hers was in an all-Spanish church cutting her teeth on Baptist hymns. “It’s a different type of southerner, and that’s why the music I make sounds like a different type of the south. By nature, I’m mixed. That’s been my whole life — having to reconcile two different cultures, or the religious and secular world, or the different genres that have all influenced me. From the time I was born, I realized I was going to be a big mix,” explains Brasher. Either way you slice it, this guitar slinging, soul singer serves up a robust sound with story influenced lyrics and moody perspectives on her latest album Painted Image.
“Blood Of The Lamb” begins the album, with a clean guitar playing a soulful figure that leads to the band entrance and Brasher’s lush warm vocals. When hearing her for the first time, one notices the rich timbre and well-placed accents in her singing. The song unfolds like a classic soul tune, with horns and organs fills in the spaces around Brasher’s blues flavored vocals. The reverb on her vocals has that 60s soul vibe. The chorus has a hip groove and horn parts. With each pass through the form Brasher opens her voice a little more and in the last chorus we can hear the growl in her lower register and the soul in her upper register. Brasher is certainly keeping the soul flame alive.
“Hand To The Plow” has a soul -jazz flavor and feel. With a smoky organ part and sexy saxophone solo set to the horn’s comments. Brasher digs into the back beat, pushing the melody in all the right places. Her soulfulness can be especially savored in the end of her phrases, the way she articulates the embellishments and growls is impressive. With subtle vocal background vocals, Brasher keeps the energy high throughout the form. Adding passion to every note, Brasher’s vocal control is a breath of fresh air, her authenticity and uniqueness both work in her favor.
Sassy and retro, Painted Image has a busking bite. Brasher is convincing. Her lean and vintage soul sound is filled with fuzzed organ and deeply grooving guitar melodies. Her songwriting chops have a throwback sensibility that invokes a bit of delta blues, a touch of Bobby Gentry lyric leaning. Well-crafted tunes lend themselves to a modernized sound, with the respect of American soul traditions that add up to a southern influenced revival.
Label: Fat Possum