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Former Lady Grey Vocalist Lizanne Richards
Releases Debut Self-Titled Album

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Lizanne RichardsMelbourne-based singer songwriter Lizanne Richards - the voice and creative force behind acclaimed outfit Lady Grey - has stepped out from the shadows and into the spotlight with the release of her own debut self-titled album. The album draws on elements of jazz, blues and alt-folk, capturing the intensity of Lizanne’s honest songwriting and stunning vocals. For a debut release, it is beautifully and exceptionally crafted. The production is flawless and the songs easily communicate on many levels. It is one of those albums that captivates you upon the first listen and continues to draw you in the more you hear it.

Stepping away from Lady Grey and pursuing a career under her own name was a daunting process. Lizanne admits the process of making the album has certainly helped her grow in confidence. She wanted to create music in her own right, under her own name – and decided if she was going to devote the blood, sweat and tears to create a full-length album, then she wanted the acknowledgment for that effort – and rightly so. She brought in producer Shane O’Mara (Paul Kelly, The Audreys, Tim Rogers, Christine Anu) to help and a swag of incredible musicians including Ralf Rehak (drums, percussion), Jorge Rodrigues (electric bass), Ray Pereira (percussion) and Bruce Haymes (keyboards).

It has taken a while for Lizanne to find a niche for herself. She’s been playing music for years, starting off by playing violin in a Glasgow-based outfit Oldsolar. During her time with the band, they played a support slot for The Reindeer Section – a coming together of musicians from Snow Patrol, Arab Strap and others for a Christmas fundraiser. Upon returning to Melbourne, she teamed up with musician Andy Ross to create the jazz and blues-infused Lady Grey. She also sung as a guest vocalist on Tim Rogers’ latest release Rogers Sings Rogerstein.

Drawing on these experiences, and her somewhat unique upbringing, it’s no surprise Lizanne had more than enough fodder for inspiration for her album. She spent her early years living in Africa, growing up with missionary parents, seeing what life was like immersed in another culture.

“I think my exposure to a culture so different to my own during such formative years had an impact on my outlook,” she says. “I’ve always been very interested in my surrounds and how people are shaped by their surrounds. Vast landscapes appeal to me, as does exploration of what it is to be human. I like to think that I have a chameleon quality where I can navigate my way through a wide range of social settings of varied cultures and sub-cultures. Its of great interest to me to know who I am and where I fit into the world at large.”

By this token, its not surprising that the styles of music that have inspired Lizanne the most over the years are of an organic nature, from the likes of Odetta, Melody Gardot, Gillian Welch and The Black Keys, to name a few. “I love music that’s original, but where you can hear hints of its roots,” she says. “I’m attracted to the grassroots nature of acoustic music that can be performed anywhere, anytime. I love the places a song can go in feel and texture, beginning from a skeleton of guitar and voice. I’m also coming to see that being a singer songwriter is a genre in itself.”

This grassroots attraction flows throughout Lizanne’s album, from the artwork depicting tree roots as veins running down Lizanne’s naked back, to the organic nature of the songs. There is also an element of bravery that is an undercurrent throughout the whole album, a reflection on Lizanne’s courage to step out on her own. Just before she began to pen the tracks for the album, Lizanne moved from metropolitan Melbourne to regional Victoria. Initially, she thought this would reflect negatively on her music, but instead found it gave her a chance to focus on what she wanted to achieve. She stopped working full-time to focus on the album, but juggled her calendar enough to both earn money to finance the album and still devote enough time creatively.

“It felt like such a risk at the time,” she says. “I knew giving up that day of work could basically fund the album over a year. But working full-time wasn’t allowing me to find the time to devote to writing and work-shopping songs.”
For a good half a year, Lizanne worked on tracks making sure she had a solid selection before heading into the recording studio. She devoted a couple of years to the project, making sure that everything was perfect before finalising the release. The result is certainly an album that Lizanne can be proud to put her name to.

Lizanne Richards’ self-titled album is released on Tuesday 10th September 2013 through Vitamin Records.

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