DDebonair and smooth in its musical etching, Liz Martin’s ‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’ meanders (‘So Long’), sways (‘Be What May’), gets all Belle and Sebastian meets Fairport Convention (‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’), then strikes a sci-fi jazz interlude only three songs in.
Oh, and then there’s Martin floating semi naked in a swimming pool on the front cover of the record.
Erect right nipple
exposed, pearl necklace buoyant like a jellyfish jewel with Martin’s
sequined dress splashed across her torso… it’s a mesmerizing
Ambitious indeed, and it works as a piece of contentious art alongside a sonic catwalk with strings, shuffle drum and Dave Symes’ bass working over sultry terrain to soundtrack the saucy image.
Along with Hamish Stuart (drums), Stu Hunter (keys), Veren Grigorov (violin/viola), Dirk Kruithof (guitar), Mr Percival (guest vocals on Bowie’s ‘Sound & Vision’) and a score of an ABC Radio National Album Of The Week, Martin has reached a new level on her third record.
Melancholy amalgamates with angst, the swoon with the swank, amid the resonance of artists the likes of Antony Hegarty, Joan Wasser and Rickie Lee Jones whose sounds emanate right the way through ‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’.
Narratives tap in and out and collapse in a heap with willful lyrics and a headstrong approach washing through Martin’s delivery. Jazz, pop, breathy and brilliant. From the Shirley Bassey inspired ‘Night Time’ to the epic orchestral score that is ‘Darling’, this record will move you in ways you really want to be moved.
When you see the names Dave Symes and Hamish Stuart on an album that is as good as a stamp of approval – “Quality Product Contained Within”.
That Symes produced the album, and that Liz Martin already had two highly promising albums to her name heightens the sense of expectation.
Live a Little, Dance a Little doesn’t disappoint.
Think Rickie Lee-Jones meets Leonard Cohen in Paris. Think jazz meets pop in a smokey 60's swinging bar. Think good thoughts.
Forget those So Frenchy, So Chic compilations, take one listen to the title track here and feel all the liberation of Europe in the 1960's.
Liz Martin is an artist who works into her songs, less personal revelations than lovingly constructed offerings.
And in Symes and company she has a band who have found the groove and feel for each carefully composed piece;
and her choice of cover – David Bowie’s lesser known Sound and Vision – not only perfectly complements the albums original tunes but adds and external element of surprise and difference (with Mr Percival providing the duet voice).
That the album was written in the aftermath of her fathers death and as she recovered from major surgery provides a context for us to understand how a real artist works