Elizabeth & the Catapult Go for “Zero”

 

New album due October
26 on Verve Forecast.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

“If I had to compare our albums,” says Elizabeth Ziman, the singer/songwriter/keyboardist
behind Elizabeth
& the Catapult, “I’d say Taller Children has the sarcastic lightness
of a Woody Allen film, and the new record’s more like Kubrick or Lynch-a little
darker, a little more tongue-in-cheek.” 

 

Not that any of these shifts are a surprise. After all, Elizabeth learned how to manipulate moods through music at
an early age, whether that meant performing a wildly-expressive piano piece or
belting out bizarre harmonies in New
York’s world-renowned Young People’s Chorus. 

 

And now this: The Other Side of Zero, an
Elizabeth & the Catapult album that started with a Lincoln Center song
cycle – performed last spring after a commission from NPR’s John Schaefer – and
a cover-to-cover study of Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing collection. As
the latter’s pages sunk in, Elizabeth
couldn’t help but draw parallels between Cohen’s failure to meet Buddhist goals
in a monastery and her own coming-of-age struggles in the big city. (The New York native grew up in the heart of Greenwich
Village.)

 

She also wrote Elizabeth & the Catapult’s rawest set of
recordings yet, including the clanging chords and galloping groove of “The Horse
and the Missing Cart,” the sputtering, string-grazed percussion of “You and
Me,” “We All Fall Down, the Buddhist twist on a classic love song, “Julian
Darling,” a wake up call to a friend and the hopeful but heartbroken contrasts
of “Thank You For Nothing.” And then there’s the title track. Led by a lean,
winding piano line, it builds to a spine-tingling crescendo alongside the
honey-dipped harmonies of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings-a collaboration that
was completely unplanned. Not that you’d notice, considering how
seamless it sounds.

 

Unlike their thoroughly-demoed debut-an album that took two
years to complete-the Zero sessions boiled down to a month of
recording with producer Tony Berg (Peter Gabriel, Phantom Planet, Jesca Hoop)
and such respected sidemen as guitarist Blake Mills and Tom Waits’ longtime
touring keyboardist, Patrick Warren. The result was rough but refined, bruised
but beautiful, as if Berg had placed a mic in a room and walked away, letting Elizabeth
and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Danny Molad do their thing. 

 

As Molad puts it, “The record is more blatantly honest, even
rude at times…” Elizabeth
continues, “Even the happiest sounding pop songs on this record have a
tinge of regret and darkness to them…And thank goodness for that. Ultimately
that’s the only way I’d feel comfortable singing them. I’m drawn to the
ambiguity like a menacing smile.” 

 

Tour Dates:

 

Sept
25 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA #
Oct 2 – Rusty Rudder – Dewey Beach, DE    
Oct 7 – Bates College – Benjamin Mays Center – Lewiston, ME    
Oct 11 – 7th Street Entry –
Minneapolis, MN *
Oct 12 – Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI *   
Oct 13 – Schubas – Chicago, IL *   
Oct 14 – Radio Radio – Indianapolis, IN *  
Oct 15 – The Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA *   
Oct 16 – Black Cat – Washington, DC *
Oct 22 – Cornell University, Just About Music Residence Hall – Ithaca,
NY    
Oct 23 – Rockwood Music Hall – NY, NY    CMJ
Oct 28 – The Red Room @ Cafe 939 – Boston, MA    
Nov 4 – NightCat – Easton, MD   

 

# w/ Aimee Mann

*
w/ Jukebox the Ghost

 

 

 

 

 

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