Oh, Lizzie Powell, it’s been too long! Canada’s given a lot of great alt-songstresses, from Leslie Feist (QRO live review) to Emily Haines of Metric (QRO live review), and a year or two ago, it seemed like Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell (QRO interview) was going to be the next. Beautiful voice that is still approachable? Check. Interesting but not baffling musical choices? Check. Put out a record worthy of a breakthrough? Some Are Lakes – Check (QRO review). Alt-hot? Check (QRO photos). Dating/dated another alt-singer/songwriter? Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (QRO album review) – Check. Served as female vocalist on a Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on) tour or two? Check (QRO photos).
And then Powell disappeared for a year… Before & during her 2008 tour opening for/doing female vocals for Broken Social Scene (which included a stop at CMJ – QRO recap), Powell’s voice started to give out. While she shouldered on through the BSS tour, Powell laid low after that. Now, just about a year later, Land of Talk (the singer/guitarist’s three-piece, with a seemingly ever-rotating bassists & drummers) returns with Fun and Laughter EP. While not the refreshing breakthrough of Some Are Lakes or the preceding debut Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP (QRO review), Fun and Laughter reminds everyone why they loved Elizabeth Powell in the first place.
"Sixteen Asterik" starts the EP out with some new tech experiments thrown in the mix, however, its core is still Powell’s restrained but powerful vocals and guitar, which almost sneak up & grab you, even though you see them coming. "May You Never" brings a stronger press, as well as nighttime elements, while "As Me" repeats the "Give Me Back My Heart Attack" (QRO video)/"It’s Okay" (QRO video) one-two dichotomy from Some Are Lakes, going from hitting rock to a softer, more encompassing nature, while retaining Powell’s signature sound. Closer "A Series of Small Events" brings a more relaxed, almost alt-country strum to Land of Talk, but is still matched well with Powell’s voice.
QRO has expected big things from the first time we saw Land of Talk (QRO live review), and only thought more so after Some Are Lakes (#2 in our Top 40 Albums of 2008), so Powell’s vocal malaise hit here pretty hard (including scotching an interview during CMJ…). But she’s back on the road this fall, just the coasts for a few dates. Fun and Laughter similarly whets appetites, brings back a taste of a favorite flavor.
MP3 Stream: "May You Never"