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Liz Tormes | Limelight
Most of the female singers that have passed this way so far this year have seemed overwhelmingly influenced by either Mazzy Star, for some reason, or Aimee Mann. 'Limelight' is Mann-like in quality and not just in vocal style, which is good. Opener Read My Mind has the failed-love lyric, the shuffle, the piano, the catchy chorus, and Ms Tormes's spot-on Aimee-toned delivery. But, in the guitar that verges on the wailing, it points to some later divergence from the pattern. It's a fine song. The thing about influence spotting, I find, is that if the songs are good enough, you find your awareness of the antecedents waning. And I think that this one is going to do just that.
Liz Tormes grew up in Nashville, and the country twang is strong on many of the songs here, especially the title track, but then the song that follows, Maybe You Won't, is a bare and spookily churning duet, with Teddy Thompson. Next up is the well-titled Black Luck which features some soaring and wailing reverb guitar that adds some wild counterpoint to the angsty lyrics, as does the similarly stand-out guitar on a fair few songs as the album progresses.
Tormes is now based in New York and plays those press-release name-dropping clubs. She's also had a song in a film and on some other people's albums and a member of Wilco produced her debut EP. (I leave a few details vague to encourage you to check out her tasteful web site.) As track eight, Fall Silent, does sweet things with electric piano and some dirty slide guitar, I'll just pitch in one last comparison - Kathleen Edwards, for the grown-up rock/country mix - and leave you to decide that Tormes sounds like someone worth checking out.

Jeff Cotton
October 2005

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