Niece of acclaimed songwriter Vic Chestnutt, Liz Durrett is a 20-something Southern gothic wunderkind, a Georgia native who understands the poignant effect of the deliberately slow pace, the impact of space and dirge, the value of lament and loss set to music. Full of emotionally distraught tunes that take full advantage of her aching voice, Durrett's sophomore effort The Mezzanine overcomes a nagging Tori Amos vibe to get underneath the superficialities of sentiment. Intense narratives such as "Knives at the Wall" and "Shivering Assembly" are sparse but complete, the sound of someone putting together what once fell apart. And her voice, like Lucinda Williams on the worst Quaalude bender imaginable, twists the syllables until the words themselves are in question, a new kind of language--the spill of despair as the ultimate declaration of heartbreak, however unintelligible or misunderstood.
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Chestnutt produced the effort and plays on several cuts including the detail-rich "Cup on the Counter" and the harrowing final cut "In the Throes," where Durrett sings of "The pretty way you mutilate the mystery/And hang it up and let the light stab through the flimsy fabric." Chestnutt provides a backbeat laced with ether, a downtrodden pulse perfectly suited to the fascinating chill that inhabits The Mezzanine like a cold mist around an empty house.