Show Review: Liz Longley @ Eddie’s Attic 4/22/12

Liz Longley live at Eddie's Attic 4/22/12Have you ever discounted a musician before you’ve really given him or her a good, thoughtful listen?

I’ve done it a few times. Probably several, actually. I remember being 14 when Coldplay’s “Yellow” music vid was making its rounds on MTV. I hated that song. Hated that band. Hated everything British and gooey and achy about that song.

Then, I gave them more attention. I loved them. I drank the Coldplay Kool-Aid for years, and still sip it occasionally (Not gonna lie, though, Mylo Xyloto kind of freaks me out in some spots).

I digress–My story: Sunday night I felt like I needed some music and Eddie’s Attic is not only a sacred place in Atlanta, it’s also a wonderful place to catch good talent. It’s not always for jamming or socializing, but good music and good people abound.

I checked the calendar and Erick Baker was playing–I previewed a video of his music and it was good so I figured why not (side note: his performance turned out to be incredible). Liz Longley was his opener, so I clicked forward to her site to see what she was all about. The first song I played was a tinge too country, so… moral of my last four paragraphs, I discounted her music. I was sure she’d be a pleasure to listen to (just like you say your friend’s new boyfriend is “nice”), but nothing I’d stay totally in tune with.

I. WAS. WRONG. And it wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last (If you’ve read any of my previous work on here, you’d be inclined to agree with that statement).

I had no intentions of writing a show review about her (thus why there’s only one instagram photo of the show!) but I couldn’t help myself. Longley is as cute as she is fierce on the small stage. She’d give any girl in the singer/songwriter vein a run for her money. At 24, she shows her age and it’s the second best thing about her music, next to her actual voice. Her songs live squarely in these moments as they happen around her without sounding long and drawn out.

A largely acoustic set, there’s a heavy hand of angst, but her music is unpretentious and sweeps you up by the time she’s on her second song. Longley effortlessly hits deep and rich notes that sound drawn from an oak barrel and then just as easily wraps the song up tightly in sweet, soulful punches of crooning and harmonizing. And man, can she hit the high notes.

Her set included “Unraveling,” an aching song about her grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and “Avery,” a slightly comical story about an unmet touring partner who leaves her high and dry on the road (knock on wood, this won’t happen to her). “Bad Habit” felt like one of her more narrative songs, a little more country, and slow in its start but stronger towards its end.

Longley’s six song set varied a bit, both in tempo and lyrical quality, but her voice was astounding throughout. What draws me to her is the same affection I have for the voices of Blue Indian regulars like Molly Parden and Amy Godwin. This uncanny ability to overwhelm a room without forcing a single word or sound.

She finished up the night with “Skin and Bones,” the byproduct of a long story about someone who cheated on someone, which shined as true bluegrass embodied in the sugar, sour and fiery tempo that invokes an entire room to be pushed and pulled by Longley’s every note. Depth was added to the song (and the entire set) by her boyfriend, Gus Berry (props, Gus!). The song wrapped with Longley pounding her fist against the guitar, thudding out a hollow backbeat under her unapologetic voice, singing, “Well you got what you wanted, was it worth the cost? The fire is burning now, look at all you’ve lost.”

Truthfully, for all the seriousness about Longley’s music, she is funny as hell. Which, to her credit, means she’ll be able to sing about this stuff for a long time to come. It’s a special thing to catch artists when they’re just starting out. We love that here at TBI, and you’d be foolish not to give her a listen.

Writer’s Note: There are tons of good quality videos on YouTube that capture live performances of the songs listed in this review.
-Beth Yeckley, April 28, 2012