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CD REVIEW: Liz de Lise - To & Fro (EP)
By Cyrus Rhodes - 02/08/2015 - 11:21 PM EST

Artist: Liz de Lise
Album: To & Fro
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic folk/pop
Sounds Like: Edie Brickell, PJ Harvey, Indigo Girls. Tori Amos, Anna Calvi, Feist, Norah Jones, Amanda MacLean, F
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Ode, Pan, Star Fire
Weakness: A few winded songs, short sided catalog
CD Review: (PHILADELPHIA, PENN) After receiving a research grant as an undergraduate student at Connecticut College, de Lise headed to Portland, Oregon where she spent the summer interviewing and observing the street kids that passed through town. The songs on "To & Fro" are de Lise’s interpretations of stories told to her by the street kids. She writes about the special struggles of those coming of age in our rapidly changing society. The songs are intriguing, each a mini adventure. All are true. This 6 tack effort was released in 2014.
The EP takes flight with the melodic “Ode” an earthy driven gypsy folk ditty that serves up impassioned vocal feel from de Lise meshed with impressive Accordion and sporadic percussive accents served up against well placed fretwork, earthy musical touches meshed against amazing vocal harmonies against a grand slam chorus. Track 2 “Home/less” downshifts a bit with its methodical acoustic guitar driven intro eventually lending itself into an impressive “Gold Standard” ballad that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Pan” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its infectious melody, steady flowing rhythm and heartfelt/thought provoking message. The EP makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid tracks in a row. I would classify this music as Alternative Folk, with a dash of Gypsy Folk, and Psychedelic Soul.  Also present are unique elements of what I would call European Gypsy Folk. All in all the EP touches a wide range of musical styles. Besides the four piece standard you will notice impressive instrumentation with things like impressive Accordion, Piano, Americana Fretwork, Acoustic guitar and solo guitar, Cello, Mandolin,  sporadic keyboard and organ accents, well-placed harmonies, sporadic percussion all built upon a solid rhythm section to boot. The musicianship and musical touches from Lise and company are highly original and clearly above the bar. As for her vocal abilities, it works extremely well within the confines of this catalog. She’s got a good look, a catchy mystique and knows how to sit deep within the pocket and sing a song with amazing vocal fluidity. Lise has a great voice for Folk. She showcases an impressive tonal range and has much in the way of power. As a songwriter: the songwriting consistent and rock solid across the board. The harmonies and melodies are well placed and well crafted. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) as the EP possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. EP possesses amazing and vivid sound quality. The multi-instrumentalist approach is rock solid and delivers everything you would expect from a top-tiered musical Production such as this providing much in the way of musical variety and melodic Americana fretwork. Some aspects to the production sound almost Philharmonic and theatrical in nature. It definitely offers has a lot of musical depth and variety within the sonic space. The music of Liz de Lise reminds me of a combination between Edie Brickell, PJ Harvey, Indigo Girls. Tori Amos, Anna Calvi, Feist, Norah Jones, Amanda MacLean, Fiona Apple and Joni Mitchell. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. By track 5 the CD hits solid stride dishing out the strongest territory of the EP. From jumping “Strangers” to hypnotic “Star Fire” this EP has something for just about everyone. The EP ends with Track 6 “The End” the perfect finale statement for a EP like this. 
All songs over 4 minutes feel like they drag you to the finish line.

From start to finish "To & Fro” (EP) by Liz de Lise delivers the Psychedelic Soulful Gyspy Folk mojo and is a consistently uplifting 6 Track release from start to finish. The music is diverse, grooving, upbeat, soulful and sonically entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Liz De Lise and her contributors literally blew me away. Her amazing approach to songwriting and multi instrumentation approach is something millions of people should gravitate towards.   
Cyrus Rhodes

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