Lizzie West is a musician with wanderlust running through her veins. Before recording her debut album Holy Road: Freedom Songs
(Warner Bros.), the young singer/songwriter bounced back and forth between New York, London and Nashville
before deciding to showcase her talents in venues throughout the Big Apple.
It wasn’t long though before the big label bosses were taking with haunting road-weary voice and signed her quicker than you can say “girl singers who play guitar are hot now”. But to be fair, West does seems to have the talent to become more than just another product of a fly by night fad She reaches for the moon on Holy Road. It’s an ambitious album with 13 tracks. That’s a lot of space for a young artist to fill up and unfortunately, West only has enough album-worthy material hear to fill up about half of it.
She hits the ground running on the first few tracks. “Time to Cry” is one of those songs for every girl who ever wondered if she was wasting her tears on someone who didn’t quite deserve them. “Dusty Turnaround” is the true gem on this album. It’s a perfect road song with its clear-eyed advice about traveling around only to find that “man there is no place like home”.
West even evokes the yellow brick road as a pathway on her journey. “Sometime” is the closest thing to a ballad on the record. It’s a little ego-centric, but it has a good melody and a passionate vocal. Some nice imagery comes into play on “The Day We Met” as the blonde-haired songstress croons about times and places “where the pumpkin-colored trees are turning red”.
If Lizzie West is a fan of The Wizard of Oz, she’s also seen “Alice in Wonderland”. One of the album’s weakest tunes “Jenny” finds a hapless heroine going down a rabbit hold after being “broke in” and “broke down”. And if you haven’t had enough depressing literary references yet, “Doctor” offers up the lyrics “Excuse me Mr. Jeckyl/Pardon Mr. Hyde” as the singer coos that “your head just ain’t on right.”
The latter half of the album reeks of a songwriter who has just simply run out of steam. Her love songs consist of tales or troubled relationships. West is either professing eternal love or kicking a lover out the door while still leaving the door gaping open. These are the typical relationships of younger couples. Period! There are only so many ways to make these sorts of relationships sound new and original.
For the most part, Holy Road: Freedom Songs showcases, an interesting new talent who just bit off more than she could chew. Here’s hoping that she takes a bit more time on her second album to explore and grow. There’s lot of life for her yet to live and her subsequent songs and albums will only be the better for it.