Singer/songwriter, playwright Lizzie Nunnery releases Hungry EP - review

Lizzie Nunnery

Lizzie Nunnery is a 25-year old Liverpool-based singer/songwriter to watch out for. A prolific writer and incredible talent, not only has she been writing and performing her own music for over ten years, she's also an award winning playwright. Her most recent play, "Tiny Chaos" was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April, 2008.

Lizzie's first EP 'Monkeys and Devils' was released in 2006 and showcased a soulful, folky sound which set a high precedent for her latest EP, 'Hungry'.

'Hungry' more than lives up to its predecessor and provides ample cause for comparisons to artists such as Joni Mitchell or Nick Drake. Lizzie's is the same brand of delicate, confessional folk with wonderfully intelligent and emotive lyrics and quietly confident, dextrous turns on the guitar. Yes, Lizzie is one of those ludicrously gifted people who can write and perform with equal (and exceptional) skill.

It is the voice which first hits you: tremulous with feeling but with a body and strength which gathers momentum effortlessly as the tracks unfurl. The EP's title track, "Hungry", is the perfect prism for each facet of Lizzie Nunnery's captivating vocals to shine through; the vocals begin softly enough but work up powerfully to express both a sense of sadness and slight anger. "Hungry" is a beautiful lament on the disappointment of lost love and Lizzie's voice is at its most shimmering and affective. Similarly, closing song "Concertina" presents Lizzie's enchanting voice in a live setting and illustrates her vocal range wonderfully.

Lizzie's lyrics are both conversational and subtly poetic, demonstrating a huge awareness of the power of words when used effectively:

"We were drunk and don't remember anyway
That's the account we gave of it the next day
I remember clearly not being near you
Things we didn't do and didn't say ... you not telling me not to be free"

The sense of regret for what could have been and the time wasted on an unrequited love is palpable and creates a huge impact in the listener. Without condemning either party, Lizzie's words force the listener to review their own romances and behaviour - surely a sign of an exceptionally talented lyricist.

Opening track "Pubs That Never Close" also taps into a common experience, evoking the feeling of dragging "high heels home" from town after a big night out. Her deft guitar picking and a moody, distorted violin create a melancholic and brooding atmosphere perfect for the lyrics' reflective tone.

Lizzie is someone who knows how to use language intelligently; she doesn't use it to show off but to create emotions in her listeners, and her lyrics have a poetic economy which is startlingly insightful. Take "Not My Heart", in which a failing relationship is documented against an incongruous but actually pretty effective ukulele:

"I was never a fire in your blood/I was a bird in your hand".

By fusing the poetic and the colloquial, Lizzie raises the well-worn musical topic of bad relationships above tired cliché. She may be following in a folk tradition but her skill as a wordsmith is very original, with a gentle wit alongside moving content. Her singing style also signposts her separateness from the jostling crowd of female singers out there: clear and focussed, technically impossible to criticise and with the same kind of purity as the brilliant Joan Baez. At the same time, her soft Liverpool dialect nudges into her delivery to create a great sense of warmth, feeling and larger sense of individuality than many of her female contemporaries.

All songs are arranged by Lizzie and multi-instrumentalist and producer Vidar Norheim, and the result is testament to their accomplishment as musicians as well as each track's natural charm.

The EP is beautifully produced by Vidar, who, whilst crafting a polished and professional sounding collection of songs, allows the natural qualities of Lizzie Nunnery's voice to shine through to promote a feeling of intimacy between singer and listener.

Highly recommended.

Lizzie Nunnery Myspace
Lizzie Nunnery

By: Lindsey Davis

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