CD Review: Elizabeth & The Catapult — The Other Side of Zero; Playing Variety Playhouse, September 25
Elizabeth & The Catapult
The Other Side Of Zero
By Giles Turnbull
Elizabeth & The Catapult’s debut album, Taller Children, received much praise, and deservedly so; it’s part-folk, part-indie, slightly jazzy nature was lively, and at times mischievous, which made it stand out from other female-fronted indie pop offerings.
Here we are, barely a year later, and the jaunty style is still present, but the spark that danced through the debut seems to have had its joie de vivre trampled on; this is an album of heartfelt songs about losing love and picking up the pieces.
The sound is first class throughout; intentionally raw, gentle, at times bouncy, with a tasteful supporting cast of strings, occasional brass, whistling, and choice sound effects. Nothing ever overshadows Elizabeth Zinman’s delightful voice, which saunters through each atmospheric song, from the upbeat opening of “(Time) We All Fall Down” to the contemporary sounding percussion-heavy “Go Away My Lover” or the closing pleas of “Do Not Hang Your Head.”
Where Taller Children included a Leonard Cohen cover, here there is original material that could have come straight from the misery master’s pen; “Thank You For Nothing” is Cohenesque in lyrical despondency and softly understated guitar. Elizabeth made a cover-to-cover study of Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing collection, and you can hear the influence and feel the connections in the songwriting here.
Things really start to descend from heartfelt into heartbroken with track seven, “Open Book.” You can actually reach out and touch the soulfulness of “Worn Out Tune,” and by the time you reach title track “The Other Side Of Zero” or the beautiful strains of “Do Not Hang Your Head” fill the air, you probably have the candles lit, a large glass of wine poured (another already drunk), and the outside world pushed far away.
This is undeniably a gorgeous album, full of sentiment. It can get overly subdued at times, and without the humor of Taller Children it won’t jump up and down to demand a listen, but, when you’re in a quiet, reflective mood, this is definitely what to have with your bottle of Merlot.
The Other Size Of Zero is released October 26.
Elizabeth & The Catapult play the Variety Playhouse, September 25.