Liz Carlisle

Liz Carlisle


"Liz Carlisle is a promising local songwriter with a pure, welcoming soprano and a knack for smart folk-pop balladry" - Scott Alarik, Boston Globe


"Liz Carlisle is a promising local songwriter with a pure, welcoming soprano and a knack for smart folk-pop balladry" - Scott Alarik, Boston Globe

“‘Half& Half’ is a remarkably well-rounded record, full of soaring melodies and soft-voiced intimacies, stories of love and longing, all revealed through the lens of Carlisle’s glassy, sweet-toned voice.” – Joe Nickell, The Missoulian.

Less than three years since moving to Boston from Missoula, Montana, Liz Carlisle has already released two critically-acclaimed CDs, been featured twice in the Boston Globe, enjoyed a successful tour of the UK, and played such New England venues as the legendary Club Passim.

Carlisle self-produced her first recording in Montana at age 17, after winning a songwriting contest at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. A top seller at local record store Rockin’ Rudy’s, Thief in the Night was also well received by local critics. Missoulian reviewer Erica Parfit praised the debut as a “breath of fresh mountain air,” adding “Carlisle has a voice and style like that of Joni Mitchell, clear and lilting, with the simplicity of a home-cooked meal.”

Despite the success of the album, Carlisle did not play out much at first: she had gone to Berklee for jazz drumset, and had only been playing guitar for six months when Thief in the Night was released. (Carlisle supplies her own keyboard and drum tracks on the album, but her father Ray plays guitar).

She found herself forced to learn fast, however, when she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts less than a year later. An ethnomusicology student at Harvard, Carlisle frequented the open mics just down the street at Club Passim, where she found a supportive community of musicians who continue to help her hone her craft. Among Carlisle’s mentors is Livingston Taylor, with whom she played at Memorial Church this past spring.

Though she describes her music as “acoustic folk-country,” Carlisle’s collaborations with such disparate artists as folk-pop producer Russell Wolff and English fiddler Jonathan Potts have created dynamic fusions. Half and Half (May 2004), produced by Wolff, acknowledges the inherently hybrid nature of Carlisle’s Montana-bred/Boston-raised sound. The recording received several positive reviews and appears on the playlists of folk radio stations from France and Belgium to Alaska and Hawaii. Following tours of Montana and the UK in the summer of 2004 and several New England appearances, Liz plans another full touring schedule in 2005.

She is currently at work on her third studio recording, due out this year.

Selected Appearances:

United States
Club Passim
Johnny D’s
Cantab Lounge
Postcrypt Coffeehouse
Fox Run House Concert Series
Kendall Cafe
Stone Soup Coffeehouse
Organic Garden Cafe
Nameless Coffeehouse
Quincy Courtyard Festival
Sanders Theater
Arts First Festival
Leaf and Bean
Plough and Stars
Break Espresso
Rockin' Rudy's
Shadows Keep

United Kingdom
Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival
Leigh Folk Festival
Edinbane Festival
Priddy Folk Fayre
Bute Live Festival
Hoy-at-Anchor Folk Club
Sandbach Folk Club


Boy in Indiana

Written By: Liz Carlisle

She followed a stranger into the night air, he asked her for her name.
She told him ‘bout the lake she loves and how nowhere else is quite the same
Then she stared off in the starlight and he couldn't catch her eye
He strolled back into the bar and asked me "what's she lookin' for in the sky"

She's got a boy in Indiana
A lover she never had
But she's never ventured north of Savannah
So she's lookin' for him in the stars instead

Her daddy’d needed the Chevy fixed and he’d heard Billy Joe was in town
She was in the kitchen making blueberry crisp when his truck pulled around
The other girls laughed at that beat up engine, that old T-shirt he couldn't keep on
But she'd never met a man like him, now she can't believe that he's long gone … and he’s just


Well, it's so easy to fall in love with someone you can't have
See the melancholy fill her lonely heart
If she wanted she could come and join this lovesick man
But she'd have to risk the day we'd break apart

These newcomers are just passin’ through, yeah there's other fish in the sea
But since I first glimpsed that long black dress, she's the only woman I can see
We'll probably never share the same last name, might not even exchange a word
But we'll share this moment loving on a star, ‘cause I've got her and


Faces of Strangers

Written By: Liz Carlisle

There’s a homeless man who wants my change, cigarette butts underfoot
This ain’t the quiet sidestreet I grew up on
I came out East all stubborn, in the know-it-all of youth
To prove myself, make it on my own

Funny how they worried I’d get lonely
long for a familiar how d’you do
‘Cause as the twilight sets in on this pioneer’s walk home
Each face looks like someone I once knew

There’s my college roommate Jenny and my prom date Lawrence John
Each step forward takes me one year back
To the girl who saved my bus seat and the boy who’d kick the back
Their names are gone but the picture never faded
Paradin’ down Mass Ave. tonight, it’s my whole life in the faces of strangers

I feel a brush across my waist, my heart starts beating fast
I know it’s Justin come to hoist me on his shoulders
But someone says excuse me and they brusquely brush right past
I remember he’s still out in Boulder

Sometimes these car horns remind me of that old freight train
She’d stop my Camry cursin’ at her tracks
But my mind’s on cruise control, just runnin’ free again
I can almost guess whose smile’ll turn up next

The grade school secretary who’d let me sneak in late
The clerk at Freddy’s Feed and Read Bookstore
My preschool teacher’s wild curls, the mailman’s awkward gait
And two hazel eyes I never could ignore

Oh, the cool kids and the band geeks, the clean-cut college bound
Ghosts of definitions long outdated
Would I even recognize them if I saw who they are now
If they turned up long after moonlight’s faded
When I’ll pass here on my way to work seein’ nothin’ but the faces of strangers

Cause they’re nothin’ but the faces of strangers


Written By: Liz Carlisle

We sang seraphim and cherubim in Sunday school class
Little chubby golden babies on the stained glass
I’d stare out my old windowpane, pray god keep me close
But I never saw a single member of the heavenly host
Grew up moved away and had some babies of my own
I spared them from the inch-thick beauty
‘Cause thirty years had proved to me that we’re here all alone
Then I found you


I brought you home to love and laughter
Sweet domestic bliss
Honey put the water on and papa one more kiss
How it fell apart was such a mystery to me
I tried so hard to be the perfect husband and daddy
Far from home my family gone I felt so all alone
Sixty to zero in a blur
Felt I didn’t have a single person to lean on
But smilin’ in the back of my Land Rover

My four-legged angel

You got me through the tough times, things started looking up
I met a gorgeous lady and we fell so hard in love
You weren’t jealous, no you’d smile and lick her too
When you let her scratch your ears, I knew that you approved
Angels give us training wings until we find our own
They stay just til they know we’re steady
The doctor said that cancer took you but I know
You were only waiting til I was good and ready
Now some other lost soul has found his

My four-legged angel


Thief in the Night (2001)
Half & Half (2004)