Lisa Cerbone
Gig Seeker Pro

Lisa Cerbone

Westminster, Maryland, United States | INDIE

Westminster, Maryland, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Play It - Baltimore Magazine"

It's been seven years since the release of singer/songwriter Lisa Cerbone's last disc, Mercy. Cerbone, who lives in the Westminster area, took some time off to start a family, and her return to the local scene is much welcome. Her new disc, Ordinary Days (Little Scrubby Music), is something of a coup in that it is produced by Mark Kozelek, the much lauded frontman for the Red House Painters. It's an excellent match, with Cerbone's hauntingly stark tunes and ethereal vocals framed by Kozelek's luminescent, uncluttered production - it's Cerbone's strongest work to date. Tunes such as "Sweep Your Hair from Your Eyes" and "Ruthless Order", and the title track bring to mind similarly spirited artists like Low and the Cowboy Junkies, as they temper melancholia with a nod towards transcendence. It's a delicate balance that makes Cerbone's disc anything but ordinary.
- John Lewis

"All-Music Guide Review (4 Stars)"

All-Music Guide's Review of Ordinary Days

(4 Stars) Everyone has an album in their collection that they save for a rainy Sunday, an unobtrusive, slightly melancholy book of a record to organize closets and sift through old desk drawers to. Singer/songwriter Lisa Cerbone's Ordinary Days is like a cigarette on an overcast afternoon. Beginning with the phrase "Aimless and tired," from the wonderful opener "Swallowing Stones," she skillfully navigates the heart and soul with a keen eye for detail and a gift for melody. Her tiny voice conveys huge emotion on the poignant "Sweep Your Hair From Your Eyes" and the dreamy "Beautiful Mess." Producer and Red House Painter Mark Kozelek has given Cerbone a lot of room to play with and she's tastefully chosen to keep things simple, knowing full well that these delicate songs would break under the weight of any heavy production. Kozelek fills in the empty spaces sparingly, decorating each room with swift brush strokes of feedback and warm fingerpicking. The dual lead guitars that snake through the nostalgic "Mrs. Foster" showcase his restraint and respect for the intimacy of Cerbone's reflective writing style. The real magic happens when the two of them sing. Like fellow indie darlings Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Cerbone and Kozelek blend like peanut butter and jelly, often indistinguishable in their cadences like the last few crackles of an October bonfire. — James Christopher Monger - James Christopher Monger

"Delusions of Adequacy"

Absolutely the first thing you notice about Lisa Cerbone is her voice because it is simply stunning. She has the type of vocals that could clearly be referred to as angelic - a breathtakingly pretty soprano with just enough of a melancholy touch to keep her from sounding childish. Listening to Ordinary Days for the first time, it’s hard to notice much else as a result. Cerbone possesses a voice that won’t quickly leave your memory.

The sparse instrumentation adds to this initial effect. Lisa is joined by the album’s producer Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters) on guitar as well as Tim Mooney (American Music Club) on drums and Geoff Stanfield (Black Lab) on bass. Still, the music is soft, airy, and extremely delicate with only slight overtones of something a little darker underneath the surface. Ordinary Days is the perfect accompaniment to a rainy day spent inside or while listening to the last crackling embers of the last campfire of the fall.

Beyond the beautiful voice are Lisa’s lyrics which begin to rise to the forefront with each successive listen. The songs all focus on the everyday pleasures and troubles of life which become extraordinary when you step back and take a look at them in a new light. Although some tracks take a few listens to completely catch all traces of what is being conveyed, Lisa Cerbone captures these moments with such ease and her songwriting grace transcends mere storytelling.

After a six year hiatus to start a family, Lisa Cerbone doesn’t sound rusty at all. It’s as though there was no gap at all, which is exactly how I imagine it is for anyone who really lives music. For those who enjoy laidback acoustic songs with plenty of depth and texture, Ordinary Days is one album you shouldn’t pass up.

- Jennifer
- Delusions of Adequacy

"Pulse of the Twin Cities"

Any fans of innocent dreamy folk à la the Innocence Mission or the Sundays should already have shrines to Lisa Cerbone in their cardigan-heavy closets. Ordinary Days, the first record in seven years from one of the East Coast's best songstresses is a spare effort, getting by on little more than a pair of voices and acoustic guitars for much of its running time. One half of the pair, naturally, is Cerbone. The other half is Mark Kozelek, head man of indie mainstays Red House Painters and, more recently, Sun Kil Moon.

Kozelek's presence is felt all over this record, whether it's providing the underpinning vocal harmony to Cerbone's airy Kate Bush-like lead on "Swallowing Stones" or supplying the spacey lead guitar textures that drive the Neil Young-ish rocker "Ruthless Order." Additional accompaniment comes in the form of drummer Tim Mooney (American Music Club) and bassist Geoff Stanfield (Black Lab)—all are accomplished musicians in their own right and have the perfect "less is more" playing aesthetic to suit Cerbone's downcast tunes. Odes to forgotten places ("Araby") are rendered with a spare directness that is immediately haunting ("I stand in the summer wind of the bazaar, I find my hearts grown heavy in the dark / The clock says it's time to go / I'm not ready yet to find that deserted train that leads me back to Araby"). None of Ordinary Days’ tracks are boring strum-alongs either, as both Kozelek and Cerbone pepper their acoustic playing with emphatic picking and mournful minor chords that could make the songs riveting even if they didn't boast an evocative singer to go with them.

- Pulse of Twin Cities


First off, I want to make an announcement. Mark Kozelek, that guy from Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, produced Lisa Cerbone’s fourth album, Ordinary Days. And yes, it sounds very much like something Kozelek would have a hand in. Having that said, dropping the big name, marking a reference point from which to begin the review, I’ll precede with more “this sounds like” and makes me feel so…you know. So anyways, this album makes me feel very…eighteen. It takes me back to a time in my life. Folding laundry in a dark dorm room, on an empty floor of a hundred year old building in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a quiet Sunday and I’m taking Lisa Loeb’s Nine Stories out of my boombox to replace it with Velour 100’s Songs from the Rainwater EP. If I had it back then, what would have come between those albums would be Lisa Cerbone’s Ordinary Days. With the quiet resonance of Velour or Red House Painters and the youthful, feminine vocals evocative of The Sundays or The Innocence Mission, Cerbone has grown on me with each listen. It’s one of those humble, subtle albums that you have to concentrate on, let soak in. And soak in it does. There’s a guitar tone that I love, and when I hear it, it gets to me, clear down into my bone marrow where it reverberates and demands my full attention. You’ll find it in bands like Mazzy Starr, Cowboy Junkies and Velour 100. And you’ll find it behind Lisa Cerbone’s sweet, thought-provoking voice. They are one of music’s great pairings. At times almost humming, fading out, her words incoherent as she finishes sentences, Cerbone’s words are poetic. They are sad and forlorn, graceful and sensitive exhibiting an artist who is both a writer and a musician. Her lyrics tell stories and paint pictures through short, blunt sentences drawn out and reiterated. Her voice sounds innocent, girlish, but when you ingest her music in its entirety it suggests otherwise. It presents someone who’s a little tired, a little worn, maybe world-weary and mature. And this is where it could falter. These qualities are grounds for boredom and tiredness is often contagious. But this is perhaps where Kozelek’s direction comes into play. His touch is gentle yet effective and his influence easily detected throughout the album. Fans of any of the artists I so subtly name checked would do well to include this in their collection. Ordinary Days is an unassuming beauty. You may have to look twice but it’s there and although it doesn’t demand too much of you, it is the perfect accompaniment to a quiet, reflective moment. And we could all use one of those. - Stephanie Haselman

"Lisa Cerbone"

Pixie voiced songstress Lisa Cerbone enters your ears and washes over you, sending melodies to assist in falling deeply into a relaxed state. But wait…don’t get too relaxed, you don’t want to miss anything!

This is how I feel hearing the songs of Cerbone, I feel her stories soothe and keep me listening over and over again. She carries with her a full arsenal of acoustic styled songs with tales of love and, dare I say, hope. I don’t want to send all you Slowcoustic readers into shock, but I can like music that isn’t about drinkin’ whiskey and heartache! Maybe it is the fact that Cerbone has matured with her music over the years and you can hear it in songs and lyrics. She is not pretending, she is a mother of two and isn’t telling tales of things long lost (well not all the time) and seems comfortable in her own skin.

You will often find layering of strings and piano to compliment what I would say is one of her signatures – her voice. One could say a voice is the cornerstone of a singer-songwriter but I believe she brings an accessibility to her “unique” performance. While I described her voice earlier as “pixie”, you get flecks of a toned down Joanna Newsom and equally ethereal Kate Bush (as described in another great post on Cerbone for the stellar Womenfolk blog). Don’t get me wrong as I don’t feel like her voice defines her talent but it is warming and is crucial to conveying many of the themes found on her albums.

The two tracks I have for you today are both from the 2008 “We Were All Together” LP that falls into her 4 album discography quite nicely. Take a listen for yourself and become as enamored as I have.

~Smansmith - Slowcoustic Music Blog

"Lisa Cerbone We Were All Together Review"

Lisa Cerbone has a gentle, childlike voice and with We Were All Together she has created an album that is somewhat evocative of Tanya Donelly or Kristin Hersh. Every aspect of this package—from the case with its lyric adorned fine art photo cards to the crystal clear production—is finely crafted and exudes quality. One wonders why this lady is not more well known as this is her fourth release in the last eight years. We Were All Together is a collection of ten melancholy vignettes held against backdrop of stark hush. Cerbone tingles the spine of the listener with this intimate and quite beautiful recording. This quality is most evident in tunes such as “Change the Ending” and the opening track “Humming”. This record is of course not for everyone. It tends to be a little over-serious at times and leaves you feeling quite bereft once it is over. This last point also one of the positive aspects of this CD. After all if art does not engage you then what is the use of it? - Popmatters

"Notebooks - Songwriters Write About Literature"

Lisa Cerbone is a singer-songwriter who doesn't hide her lyrics behind a wall of production. Her songs usually feature only her voice, an acoustic guitar and her masterful storytelling lyrics. Her 2008 album We Are All Together is one of last year's releases that I continually return to, one that reveals hidden intricacies with every listen. - Largehearted Boy Music & Literature Blog


We Were All Together (2008)
Ordinary Days
Close Your Eyes



Content with following her own muse, the independent-minded singer/songwriter Lisa Cerbone has quietly built a strong body of work since the 90’s. Lisa, also a full-time mother of two and a former teacher, has always made a conscious effort to create music for the love of art and writing. In her new collection of songs, she continues this quest, while also balancing motherhood with her songwriting craft. Recorded when her children were at school, or asleep late at night; and written during the edges of her days, she has created another intimate and lovely recording.

Lisa’s fourth recording, We Were All Together (Ocean Music, 2008), is her newest work to date. A spare, hushed collection, We Were All Together, peels back layers to explore love, loss, and family bonds. Her sometimes melancholic, yet highly literate lyrics are buoyed by uplifting melodies and Lisa’s sweet, graceful vocals. Her acoustic finger-style guitar-playing reference older influences like Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Young; while the velvety textures and minimalist approach reference newer indie influences such as Maria Taylor and the Great Lake Swimmers. Lisa’s particular gift is the humanity and wisdom that belies the subtle nature of the songs, making the listening experience a rewarding one full of meaning.

In 2003, Lisa worked with musician and producer Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) on her third release, Ordinary Days. From this experience, Lisa learned to shape a more authentic, organic musical landscape and to explore mood to better complement her delicate voice and poetic themes. On We Were All Together, the songs explore these ideas even further. All the musical and lyrical elements work sparingly together to speak of those things that sometimes go unsaid but are frequently felt by all, bringing the listener in close. Since many of the songs were written after the loss of Lisa’s father to cancer, Lisa’s songs prove to be a more personal outing than those of the past, yet at the same time, continue to cover universal ground (“Tiny Patch of Earth”, “Change the Ending”). Still, there is also a whimsical quality found in songs inspired by her children (“Mia Noelle”, “Humming”, and “You Are So Loved”). These songs masterfully exemplify the redemptive nature of life she explores. Whether the songs are joyful, or melancholic, or anywhere in between, at the forefront of Lisa’s work is an attempt to hold onto fleeting moments with love and hope.

Adding to the beauty of the recording were some of Baltimore’s finest musicians. Frank Marchand III (The Thermals, Bob Mould) added his expertise on producing and engineering, Brian “Jonesy” Jones (Telesma) played upright and electric bass, Warren Roes (Almighty Senators) played electric guitar, and David Durst, a composer in his own right, added keyboards. Lisa played guitars, glockenspiel, keyboards, and percussion, which rounding out the luminous recording with her signature sound.

Along with Lisa’s work in the studio, Lisa has also toured France, Portugal, Canada, and the United States. She has earned two WAMMIES (DC area GRAMMIES) for best alternative female vocalist, and has had her music chosen to be on Network TV shows and movies. Her music has garnered wide critical praise in the states and in Europe from press and music lovers alike. She has also had the opportunity to perform with Ben Harper, The Cowboy Junkies, and Patty Griffin.

Lisa currently resides in rural Maryland with her husband and two children. She plans to tour Europe and the US in 2008 and continues crafting her songs of timeless beauty.