“Shelter of a Song” album cover. Cover illustration and layout by Dan Black at Landland

Maine artist Lisa/Liza released the album “Shelter of a Song,” her third on the independent Orindal label, on Nov. 20, and it’s available on Bandcamp, the Orindal site, Bull Moose and streaming platforms. You can choose from digital, CD or vinyl (teal or black).

Liza Victoria’s recording and performing moniker of Lisa/Liza is a play on the fact that her name is spelled with a “z” but pronounced with an “s” sound.

Victoria spent a decade in Portland and is currently riding out the pandemic in Wayne. She was born in Santiago, Chile, with parents from Montreal and Maine. The three of them moved to Maine when she was an infant, and she was placed in foster care at age 5. Victoria was raised in several Maine locales, including Down East and the midcoast, but spent the most time in Starks.

Victoria’s been writing music since she was a teenager and her entire discography can be found on her Bandcamp page, lisalizasbandcamp.com.

The tracks on “Shelter of a Song” were written mostly last year and were recorded by Peter Herman and mixed and mastered by Peter Broderick. The entire album is Victoria singing and accompanying herself on acoustic guitar.

Lisa/Liza at Popham State Park. Photo by Alexa Clavette

Orindal Records describes “Shelter of a Song” as a “new album of solo acoustic protection spells,” which is profoundly concise. There is a quiet sense of safety in these songs. “From this Shelter” has the lines: “Magnolia singing through a crescent moon/Then singing on through the shelter of a song/It’s just love I couldn’t possibly erase/From this shelter, from this place.” Spellbinding indeed. Victoria’s gossamer vocals are bathed in an exquisite gentleness that work their way into every crevice of your ears and heart.


Then there’s “Not Ours” with the lines: “We watched the wild geese walk across, the apple farm/Science now deems/That everything is like a curtain falling down.” Victoria takes her time getting the words out, like removing velvet gloves one finger at a time. And why shouldn’t she? There’s no need to get the lead out in her dreamscape world of songs.

“Dark Alleys” opens the album with the words, “We get lost and think of the other/And it gets better there/Filling time’s like filling cupboards,” and it sets the tone for the unhurried pace of 42 minutes that encompasses eight songs.

The first time I listened to “Shelter of a Song” it was with headphones by the soft glow of a salt lamp in the corner of my living room where my desk is. The combination of the pre-dawn darkness pierced only by muted orange-pink light and the songs on “Shelter of a Song” made for a sublime experience. Pick up a copy of the album and create your own.

Cover of the Joel Thetford album “Jacksboro Highway.” Conejo Valley, CA photo art by Lindsey Best. Design by Ryan Ordway

“Jacksboro Highway” is the fifth album from alt-country singer-songwriter Joel Thetford and was released on Nov. 23. Thetford, originally from Fort Worth, Texas, has been in Portland since 2005. He released his first EP a decade later and has been prolific ever since.

“Jacksboro Highway” is sometimes breezy (“Easy Go” and “So Far Gone”), sometimes fleshed-out ballad turned country-tinged rock (“If You Don’t Mind”) and sometimes angsty love song (“Let You Go”). Then there’s the scorching, heartbreaking track “The Truth,” which Thetford wrote in response to an ongoing family legal battle that involves his incarcerated sister and his nephew in Texas.

Thetford told me that the Jacksboro Highway is where he grew up in Fort Worth. It’s a stretch of road known for gambling and mob activity, and Thetford said that Willie Nelson used to play at saloons and bars there before he got big.

As for the album, Thetford enlisted the help of an impressive array of players, including Ryan Hormell on pedal steel. Hormell plays with the Amos Lee band and stayed at Thetford’s house a couple of years ago after being introduced by “Jacksboro Highway” producer Ryan Ordway, who also plays acoustic and electric guitar. Other musicians on the album include drummer Dan Capaldi, keys player Ben Cosgrove, violinist Megan Martell and Matt Robbins on acoustic guitar, to name just a few.

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