July 23, 2024

Lizabett Russo – ‘While I Sit And Watch This Tree Volume 2’ – “a distinctive and fascinating voice”


The sound of this album is addictive, from the ticking simplicity of the opener to the sing-song closer. The voice sometimes, like on that opener, makes pure sound, ranges from hauntingly floaty to Cocteau Twins to folky. There is a vulnerable quality that I attribute to her native Romanian, where most women speak with a comparatively high thin style. Some songs are in English, like the lovely ‘Lessons’, a plaintively resigned song of loss, others, like the hypnotic ‘Dincolo de Nori’, in Romanian.

This is Lizabett’s fifth album and the experience shows. Her vocal style is perfected and has a huge range with deft control and recalls Laura Marling at times, while remaining distinctively herself. She uses it to enter small trances, repeating phrases to induce feeling, like Van Morrison used to do in moments of passion, though here it is used as a well-honed tool in a range of settings. ‘It Must Have Been’ is a standout for hypnotic vocal weaving alongside harp and the simplest hand drum sounds.

Six of the songs are by Russo, ‘House Carpenter’ is a traditional Scottish piece and the other is a very brief Romanian poem delivered sing-song. Playing guitar herself, kudos has to go to her four-piece band, playing with unnerving restraint. The Scottish lament is distinctively a British form but the accompaniment lifts it into a meditation as much as a repetitive form. It brings out the underlying tragedy as poverty leads a woman to a choice that goes against her heart and brings regret.

Moving to Scotland at age 18 to study has brought an understanding of being an immigrant and the contrasting sense of dislocation while seeing the universal connecting points. This brought her to songwriting as an outlet for the often-times difficult experience before open mic spots helped her find her voice and her confidence. The overall effect is a highly polished yet personal album, combining a delightful lightness of touch with a distinctive and fascinating voice, bringing folk stylings into timeless settings.

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