(27 November 2003) The debut album from Lizette & entitled This Is (Blue Lemon International (Sweden) BLCD 003, 2003) is a thirteen track collection of vocally intensive rock tracks. In the year-long run up to the release, the band provided mp3 downloads of some of their pre-mastered material as a teaser for their internet visitors and our editors have been listening to it for some time. The production album is certainly an improvement that will delight listeners.
Led by Lizette von Panajott (interview), who some readers will recognise from Spektrum (review), vocalist and additional keyboards, the 'Lizette &' lineup is completed by Magnus (guitars), Ockee (keyboards), Alex (drums) and Tomas (bass). Guest spots by Hansi Cross (guitar), Lawrence Steel (guitar) and Johan Nordgren (drums) are also noted. The majority of the material was written by Lizette although she was ably assisted by Tom Aragon and Tomas Johansson on "Breathe" and "Nothing" respectively.
Comparisons to other material need to be set aside when writing about the music on This Is. Although our experience with Lizette's vocal work was previously confined to contributions to the Spektrum album, her vast experience base (see interview) has obviously been combined to produce a project of tremendous proportions. And in sharp contrast the recent array of albums by emerging female vocalists that flood the commercial space, This Is has a serious rock attitude. Powerful instrumentals compliment, not only underscore, layers of Lizette's vocal work in a variety of different styles.
The title track begins the album with powerful and rhythmic guitar, crisp percussion and almost-spoken elements of vocal work. Building instrumental textures in "Breathe" compliment Lizette's melodic vocal work which increase power as the percussive texture of the song develops. Edgy lyrics in the heartfelt "Wasteland" expose the lead singer's songwriting talent. Richly arranged and rocking choruses compliment the ballad-style verses.
The album is one of significant contrast both across and within several of the individual tracks. A great example is "Alright," a gentle and everso delicate vocal number with a heavy guitar-laden rocking and vocally processed bridge. The layers of scat supporting the soaring lead vocal and various tempo changes in "Better" further demonstrate the singer's virtuousity. We especially enjoyed the keyboard work in the track as well.
"Evil" may take some listeners a few plays to fully appreciate the track, yet layers of vocals and thick instrumentals with contrasting bridges and breaks add interest to the album. It represents a clear delineation between the first and second half of the album.
"Within" is a tender ballad with a unique electronic arrangement. It serves as a natural introduction to "Bright Side Of The Moon," a progressive rock masterpiece and the album standout. The combination of great vocals, tempo and style changes contribute to the result.
The style of "Mother" is similar to "Alright" in that the track begins as a ballad but develops, with layer upon layer of vocal harmony, into a bluesy rocker. "No One," "Did I" and "Must I" are a trilogy of thickly arranged and percussive (even dance club-styled) numbers. Expansive guitar-laden instrumentals are perfectly integrated with lush and cinematic vocal layers. The album concludes with the epic (9:24) length number "Nothing." Mostly instrumental, Lizette's sensual lead and harmony vocal layers join at the six-minute mark and build tension and release as the track and album come to a conclusion.
Lizette &'s This Is is an album of tremendous proportions and significant contrasts. With styles ranging from the gentlest "Within" through the progressive textures of "Bright Side Of The Moon" to the rocking energy of the trilogy of "No One," "Did I" and "Must I," it should be explored further.
This Is is released on Blue Lemon International (Sweden) on 2 December 2003. The "power to the artist" label also works with and does PR work for Aleena, lead singer on two tracks from Kaipa's Keyholder (review). Our review of Aleena's solo material and an exclusive interview with the singer are planned for publication during January 2004.