Liz Bills and The Change
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Liz Bills and The Change

Haverhill, MA | Established. Jan 01, 2017

Haverhill, MA
Established on Jan, 2017
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"Geoff Wilbur Music"

EP Review of Liz Bills: Liz Bills

This brand new self-titled four-song EP – it’s scheduled to drop on Saturday, November 18th – is the first solo release by Analog Heart frontwoman Liz Bills. Liz has a voice you can recognize quickly. It’s powerful, versatile, original, and memorable.

When I first heard Liz with Analog Heart, I was impressed, but with each successive step, I’ve heard growth. In dynamic delivery, full utilization of her vocal tools, consistently strong songwriting and the ability to find unique hooks. Most of all, though, while conveying a confidence and feeling that she is exactly where she belongs. That has always been a strength of Liz’s (at least during the two-plus years since I first – and last – saw her perform); her presence just seems to get stronger with each recording.

Liz Bills EP cover
image courtesy of Liz Bills

You’ve seen reviews of Analog Heart’s Sun Here I Come album last year and, this past summer, the band’s “Not Good Enough” single here in the Blog. Those had a band vibe. Liz’s new, eponymous EP is still a rock album, but it really showcases her voice and personality within and beyond the music. And hits. It has hits. The first two tracks on the collection are immediate, smack-you-in-the-face with their catchiness kind of hits; the back end of the EP, meanwhile, is subtler in its hookiness, obviously good songs even at first, but they ultimately hit you sneaky-hard as you peel back their layers and discover their massive coolness.

The first half of the collection, which I’ll call the “instant favorites” half, begins with “Born to Wander,” a big song with energetic strumming and rhythm, monster hooky stop-gaps and tempo changes, big, powerful vocals that include Liz’s crystal clear highs, and plenty of engaging character.

It’s followed by “My Man,” another smack-you-in-the-face, memorable-from-the-first-listen, causes-music-journalists-to-overuse-hyphens tune. There’s a bit of a ’70s funky rhythm and some tempo-changing lyrical runs, but the most Liz Bills element of the song is a spoken word, conversational, encouraging/empowering-conversation-with-the-audience portion, something she does memorably well, a trick Analog Heart fans might recognize from “She’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Indeed, “My Man” is a song you won’t soon forget.

Liz Bills
photo by Jonathan Rummel; photo courtesy of Liz Bills

The “back half” of Liz’s EP contains a couple songs whose hooks are slightly more hidden but very certainly potent and likely with a more permanent impact. “Werewolf,” the first single from the disc, was released October 21st. It has a subtler, rhythmically nuanced vocal, a song that softly ratchets the intensity, punctuated by howls that are both appealing and a bit confusing, at least until you start to pay attention to the lyrics (or, at least the song title). Oh, the lyrics are well-crafted to tell the song’s tale, and they match the journey of the song as well as its vocalization and instrumentation, musically leaning on the rich texture and versatility of Liz’s voice while only hinting at its power. “Werewolf” is a thoughtfully-constructed, very cool rock ‘n roll song and quite possibly my favorite…

Unless my favorite is “Bomb Song.” It’s also lyrically clever. And, as with “Werewolf,” once you stop listening passively and pay attention to said lyrics, the unusual point of emphasis, “bang,” suddenly makes sense and becomes the lyric you sing along to the most, just as you start to howl after several listens to “Werewolf.” “Bomb Song” also sports a cool, rhythmic, not-quite-syncopated strum that, at the end, halts abruptly. Abruptly emphasizing the brevity of this four-song collection and making you want more. So, of course, this is an EP that has to be played on repeat.

In the end, yes, I’ve been in Liz Bills’ camp for a while now, intrigued the first time I heard her perform live. At the time, before I started blogging and just as “Merrimack Jane” was released, I thought Analog Heart had finally hit its songwriting groove, found its niche. The band rounded a corner with a strong album beginning to end with Sun Here I Come. And now Liz has managed to kick things up another notch with her eponymous solo EP. She’ll have to blow the roof off the proverbial joint to lift her game any higher, and I look forward to hearing her try. I bet she can. For now, though, I’ll just sing and howl along with her all-too-short solo EP, and I suggest you do the same. This rock ‘n roll singer-songwriter-bandleader is something special.

Looking Ahead

The “tour” section of Liz’s website lists her upcoming tour, kicking off with a Saturday, November 18th album release show at the Chit Chat Lounge in Haverhill, MA. The subsequent tour includes stops in Millvale, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Burns, TN; Nashville, TN; Louisville, KY; Richmond, VA; Lynchburg, VA; Baltimore, MD; and Brooklyn, NY before she returns to Massachusetts for a December 5th date at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge. Check Liz’s website for details and for additional dates as they’re added. - Geoff Wilbur Music


"Bones in my Teeth: The Liz Bills EP"

I’m sitting in a rocking chair in an old-fashioned seaside town.
People hoot and holler fueled by joy, alcohol, the unbeatable freedom that comes with a week of vacation.
A block away the ocean waves break on New Jersey sand.
Above the moon is hinting at orange and promised storm clouds begin to roll across the sky.
In my ears, the soon to be released Liz Bills EP playing over and over.

It’s getting cold as the breeze picks up.
I’m on vacation from the desert, so any drop below 80 is going to give me a chill.

Earlier this evening I went on a Haunted Trolley tour, rambling around the town learning about all of the Bed & Breakfasts that count ghosts amongst their guests.

There’s something about knowing you’re surrounded by ghosts…

There’s something about a good ghost story to plant that seed of spooky in the back of your mind.

There’s something about a good story. Period.img_7934.jpg

Some of the best songs are stories set to music.
Some of the best songwriters are musical story tellers.

Have you listened to a song and just been able to see it? Like the song automatically elicits a music video in your head?

“My Man,” the second song on the EP kicks on. The pulsing guitar strumming going in time with the swings of the young woman on the porch swing across the patio from me.
It could be her theme song as she scrolls through her phone, curled up in an oversized sweatshirt.
It’s so easy to assume that romantic thoughts are swirling through her head and with each swipe of her thumb as she refreshes whichever apps she’s looking at.

And that might be one of Liz Bills hidden talents.
Her songs, stories themselves, have a way of inserting themselves into the soundtracks of the lives of everyone around you.

The third song comes on, and that’s the one that grabs me in its hairy jaws. “Werewolf” plays, and I knew before it was over the first time I heard it, I would hit replay the second it finished.

The wind is picking up and the front woman of Analog Heart is crooning wolf howls with a voice that sounds so innocent it’s almost possible to forget she’s singing about pain and heartache and love and lust.
Her songs are right up their with the best of the acoustic country/rock/alternative songs you hear on your fancy satellite radio.

If I close my eyes and block out this New Jersey ocean town – ignore the cars and the people, the smells of food and spilled drinks and cigarette smoke – I can see Liz Bills, backlit by blue with her guitar singing her heart out to all the women who think they are broken, to everyone looking for the love of their life or the love for the night; to all of those scrolling through social media feeling like they are missing out and to all of those sitting in a rocking chair on a porch in Cape May, NJ with their ear buds in and eyes closed.

Liz Bills sings in a voice that is astonishingly clear and capable. Her melodies are catchy and upbeat. Her music is perfect for the bar, the party, the beach, the city.
What I’m trying to say is, she discards the safe sounds.
You can hear her peeling away her own layers as if to say “this is who I am now. I might change tomorrow, I might not, but this is me and I will always be me.”

Music changes, just like everything else. But you just know that even if her sounds change, everything she puts out will be authentic Liz Bills. Whether it’s an upbeat love song or a more secretly sinister sound – it’s her.
That’s what you get with her music – her and nothing less.

As the “Bomb Song” closes out I find myself rocking in time with the music.
I think a stray cat just crossed the street in front of me (then again, there are ghosts here).
I stop rocking. For a minute.
Then push play again and start the EP over.



To check out more from Liz Bills visit her at https://liz-bills-atlg.squarespace.com and soon (Very Soon) at lizbills.com - Logan Riley


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Liz Bills and The Change: Liz's debut solo project.  The Change is comprised of 6 members: Amy Wynne Doran and Jessica Olson - backup vocals, Benjamin Goldbaum - lead guitar, Santiago Saenz -bass and Rick Carr - djembe, cymbals and bells and whistles.  Lead singer and songwriter Liz Bills is a vocal powerhouse and singer/songwriter from Boston, MA. Bills is known for being vulnerable and passionate in her songwriting and stage performance; openly discussing mental health, female empowerment and many other sensitive issues. Highlights with her rock band Analog Heart have included winning Rock Act of the Year in the 2018 New England Music Awards, winning the opening spot for Bon Jovi at Mohegan Sun in 2017, runner-up in the 2016 Aloft Rising Star with Daughtry, and a semi-finals appearance in the WZLX’s 2016 Rock Rumble. Liz was a top 30 female finisher in the 2013 American Idol competition, and has been compared to singers such as Grace Potter, Janis Joplin, and Brandi Carlile. 

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