Dave McGovern
staff writer
October 06, 2005
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Liz Janes and Create Liz Janes and Create
September 6, 2005
Asthmatic Kitty
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Liz Janes & Create
Liz Janes & Create

The starlight that we see in the sky took millions of years to reach our eyes. If our eyes were sensitive enough, or if we had a super telescope, then, in theory, we could expand the light and see the images that the light carries. We would see millions of years into the past. This ancient light would be a sort of time-machine nickelodeon. Liz Janes and Create (!) have created this time travel feel; they have given us a pinpoint of light not through space, but through the fabric od time and we see a faint taste of a time and place long gone.

Liz Janes (collaborator of Sufjan Stevens) and Create (!) (Los Angeles free jazz collective) on their self-titled album have reworked a collection of traditional folk, blues and gospel tunes. The record was recorded in a one-room shack and used a large assortment of acoustic instruments. Listening to this album you feel as though you have gone back in time and are passing the night away in front of the hearth listening to tunes brought to you by the county’s finest minstrels.

This communal folk feel is strongest “Run Old Jeremiah / Keep Your Hand on the Plow”. The foot stomps, hand claps, tambourine and chants of “Run Old Jeremiah” invigorate and then all the young couples start to jig as the acoustic guitar of “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” starts in tandem with the passing of the little brown jug.

The other tracks can’t quite capture the exuberance of “Run Old Jeremiah / keep your hand on the plow” but they still make for fascinating listens: The tepid banjo and guitar of “Lonesome Valley” is light rain through a hole in the cabin roof, “Be My Husband” features croaking sick bed vocals with an irregular drum beat that sounds like the last pulses of a dying heart. The next track, “Pretty Little Horses” could be the Devil’s lullaby. The vocals whisper “hushaby / don’t you cry / go to sleepy little baby” over a drone that you wont believe was made without any electronic assitance.

The big draw of this album is Liz Janes’ truly unique voice. It is like a kaleidoscope or a slow motion loop of a faucet dripping. I am not sure how improvised this album was, but Create (!) has given it the feel of an impromptu show, not in a hurried way, but in a spur of the moment truly inspired way. Liz Janes & Create (!) is indeed an amazing bite sized little expedition through century old backwoods. No need to be a mountain man to venture into this album, although the music is untamed Liz and Create will be your guides.

Release date: October 11, 2005
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Rating: 6.0 / 10

[RMR]