Liz Janes’ new album, Say Goodbye, is a narrative rife with lamentation and doubt, a search for meaning conveyed in moments of subtle darkness and crescendos of hope and joy. She was generous enough to share a little about herself and the completion of Say Goodbye, her first studio effort in five years. Concerning the long break between albums, she says,
“Each time I make a record, it is such hard work and such a big deal, I don’t think I ever assume that I’ll make another one! I’m not really a full-time artist with a career. I’m an artist with a generous and loyal record label, so whenever I’ve got a body of work together I present it as such and we eventually make a record out of it. Also, this record just took years to make. The songs were actually written between ’06 and ’08, then I just shelved them for a couple of years, not sure how to go about producing them. Finally last year, I asked Rafter if he would be interested in producing the record for me, and he said “Yes”. Besides all of the creative ‘gestation’ time, I also just work slowly. I am raising a family and finding time for art is really a battle.”
Say Goodbye is intimate and vulnerable, like reading poetry from someone’s private journal. Liz admits,
“I can’t deny that this album is completely personal. I wish I could call it fiction, but it’s not. The journey is still in progress, and there will never be an end to the searching. I have found truth AND meaning in the searching itself.”
For Christians who are still looking for firm footing and feel alone in churches and communities of perfect people who seem to have everything figured out, Say Goodbye will be a refreshing experience. In Janes they will find a fellow sojourner all too familiar with the journey, who can lucidly articulate their state mind.
In one particularly beautiful, honest moment (which inspired the album’s cover art), Liz sings, “I am just like a feathered seed/ drifting/ winds and whimsy carry me/ and steal me away/ Anchor me here/ don’t let me drift away. “ She says,
“This line, and image are a simple metaphor. Myself as helpless to whimsy, with the desire and need for a stabilizing force.”
Lines like this beg the question of whether Janes is talking about her personal relationships or something spiritual. Are there cues in the album to help distinguish?
“There are no clues, and yes this [ambiguity] is intentional. As I’m writing a song, I may be reflecting upon an earthly love when I recognize it as a tiny reflection of Divine Love. Similarly, as I may be reflecting on whatever tiny scraps of knowledge I may have about the nature of Divine Love, it will point me back to a tangible earthly love. Each is constantly pointing us to one and the other, so a song may begin in speaking specifically about one, but then move on to consider the other. So the answer is either, or both – as it’s really all a muddle – and the poetry is designed to leave space for each listener to hear what they want or need at the time. The beauty is that either view, is true.”
The album leaves plenty to consider for both the struggling romantic and the deep spiritual searcher. Concerning the intersection of her faith and music, Janes says, “My faith is the lens through which I perceive all things. So my music is inspired by, informed by, crafted by, and performed in the color of this lens.”
Janes reminds us that musicians are flawed human beings, searching and dealing with many of the same day to day struggles as everyone else.
Janes wrote all of her songs a capella before adding any accompaniment. She shared with us how these songs came together and why she wrote this way,
“Haha, Necessity Is The Mother of Invention. My hands were too full to even pick up a guitar for a couple of years there. I would compose songs in my head and with my voice while driving, doing the dishes, or during any domestic task where I could find a little head-space to work in. Later, when I finally picked up the guitar and started to figure out how to accompany myself, I was lost. I had written all these soul and R&B melodies, and my primitive folkie guitar style was not helping me out. That was when I called Chris Schlarb in to help me. I sent him a capella vocal tracks and he filled them out with all his crazy jazz chord progressions and brought the music to life. So it was unintentional, but by letting my voice and lyrical ideas drive and shape each song, I was able to create music far more beautiful than I could have, had I been limited solely to my own musicianship.”
Liz Janes’ Say Goodbye is a beautiful album. The opening feels like walking into a jazz club: melancholy, smooth, and dark. Yet there is a message of hope in these songs; the album is a journey, but not a fruitless one. Janes’ voice is the thread that soft guitars, bright horns, and a variety of other instruments all swirl around.
In closing, Liz shared,
“This record was truly made in spite of my shortcomings and inabilities. The best thing about this record is that my collaborations with Chris Schlarb and Rafter resulted in music more fully realized and beautiful than I could have written myself, and yet the resulting sounds are so true to the intended spirit of the songs that I wrote, and everything I had hoped for. I am filled with wonder and gratitude that this project has seen completion. Thanks again to Chris and Rafter.”
Say Goodbye will be available on Tuesday December 7th at http://asthmatickitty.com/. Get two free songs from the record, the opening track I Don’t Believe and album art inspiring Anchor, right here on Decapolis. We would love to hear your thoughts on these songs or the entire album.
“I Don’t Believe”