Like barely audible snatches of melody bubbling under the static drone of an old AM radio, Lisa/Liza’s “Humble Noon” is a frustratingly gorgeous, siren song of an album, beautiful but always just out of reach. Ethereal, mysterious and spiritual, it’s like the audio equivalent of someone’s summer daydream captured on tape, but never fully understood. And like the best daydreams, “Humble Noon” will completely absorb you, engulfing you in a sublime and transporting listening experience.
Lisa/Liza’s soft, wistful voice and a lone acoustic guitar are the only instruments on the album. The vocals are kept way back in the mix and are often soaked in reverb, making the plaintively sung lyrics often difficult to completely decipher. Production is erratic, with some songs louder than others, a bit of tape hiss on some and the odd pop, click or fret buzz here and there.
All of which only adds to the album’s charm. The rough edges make it seem like we’re looking at torn pages from an old scrapbook, giving us a brief glimpse at the yellowed pages of someone’s fading memories. It gives the album an almost voyeuristic quality, like we’re listening in on a shy teenager quietly singing and strumming to herself, not conscious of or caring that someone else might be listening.
Stylistically, “Humble Noon” is a unique sort of shoe-gazing indie folk, with just a hint of traditional country. Lyrically, the psychedelic mingles with the pastoral. One song has us “sleeping under bright tea leaves, celestations asunder towering,” while another conjures up memories of oversleeping, with momma telling us to “get to wakin’ up and catch that yeller bus.” And all of these lines are delivered with silky sadness by the haunting, faraway voice of Lisa/Liza, sounding almost like a young Patsy Cline (if she were a psychedelic troubadour rather than a country crooner) trapped in the body of Nick Drake. She takes us soaring through the clouds and floating through the subconscious while keeping us firmly rooted in the everyday world of lonely bedrooms and front porch swings.
“Humble Noon” is a completely engrossing listen from start to finish. Over the space of five songs, Lisa/Liza manages to evoke a sense of longing and sad nostalgia mixed with heartbreak and a certain quiet resignation. And yet, this is not a sad or unpleasant listening experience. Indeed, quite the opposite. This album will take you away to somewhere warm and green, sun soaked and full of memories both good and bad. It’s a trip you’ll want to take again and again.
Stream the album or download all five tracks for the bargain price of $4 at lisalizas.bandcamp.com/album/humble-noon.
Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at: