Lizzie West
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Lizzie West

Band Folk Acoustic

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"West: Headed east for hot summer gigs"

Q: AOL picked singer Lizzie West as one of its breakout artists of 2003. What has she done since then? --Delia D., Norfolk, VA

A: She spend a year touring with Chris Isaak and others. West, 31, also cut tracks used on "Alias," and "Third Watch." She's now debuting a new tune, "19 Miles to Baghdad," at clubs in New York and the tony Hamptons. With all the honchos sure to see West, we expect her career to heat up. - Parade Magazine, New York Post Sunday Edition


"Breakout: Lizzie West: a visionary troubadour following her own yellow brick road"

Let's hear it for the late bloomers. Singer-songwriter Lizzie West didn't pick up a guitar until she was 23, but she's made remarkably rapid progress since then. In the past five years, the 28-year old New Yorker made the leap from busking in the subway to scoring a deal with Warner Bros., which will release her debut album, "Holy Road... Freedom Songs." "I think I got from the subway to here by purusing my vision honestly, without any pause or fear," says West, a New Age kind of gal. You can get a first taste of her wonderfully plangent, lyrical songwriting (think the second coming of Natalie Merchant) on her four-song EP "West" (listen for her song "Chariot's Rise" in the feature film "Secretary"). "It took a long time to give myself permission to be who I wanted to be," says West. "But I'm on my way." We bet plenty of folks will follow. - Entertainment Weekly


"Light touch, no guile in her heartflet search"

Lizzie West, likable and eccentric, brings charm to a familiar journey.

"These are the songs of my holy road," singer-songwriter Lizzie West told hte audience Wednesday at the Mint, flashing a broad but slightly shy smile that reflected ther music's blend of guilelessness and craft.

The New York City-born guitarist, 29, followed a winding but time-tested path to her major-label debut, "Holy Road... Freedom Songs." It collects the wisdom accumulated while seeking lessons on the road, a la such personal heroes as writer Jack Kerouac. She busked in the subways of her hometown and traveled the country, eventually seeking out her muse, Leonard Cohen. After selling a couple of songs to HBO, she self-released the first version of her album, even whimsically handcrafting each CD cover.

On Wednesday, West's light, intimate touch kept her tunes refreshingly unpretentious, despite a potentially heavy mixture of stories, poetry, and soul-searching. For just under an hour, she and her two guitarists, bassista, nd drummer shifted smoothly from country twang to bluesy rock to folky pop.

They played many of the album's standouts, including the appealing "Time to Cry," the Lucinda Williams-esque "Dusty Turnaround" and the funkier "Doctor." She also burrowed soulfully into Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," making it a heartfelt cry against the recent Iraq war.

A likeably eccentric frontwoman, West swiveled her hips, played harmonica and conducted the band with wide arm sweeps. The journey she shared was perhaps what anyone looking for freedom, love and self might experience, but she had a uniquely effortless, and charming, way of telling the tale. - Los Angles Times


"A Songwriter Hits the Road In Some Personal Parables"

Lizzie West takes her songs about love and hitting hte road seiously. At the Fez on Tuesday night -- the release date of her debut album, "Holy Road: Freedom Songs" (Warner Brothers) -- she introduced songs with pronouncements like, "There's a spiritual outlaw on the loose, and she might bring us into some pleasure if we're not careful." It could have been pretentious, but it came across as one more bit of quirky intensity from a songwriter who finds parables in the personal.

Ms. West's music is folk rock that can lean toward funk or country, akin to Sheryl Crow, and her voice has a reedy hint of Natalie Merchant. Yet she already has her own perspective and her own presence: part seeker, part vamp and heavy-lidded eyes and casually swiveling hips. In "Miss You Baby," she couldn't decide whether to walk out on a straying man or let him seduce her one more time. "I miss your hands," she confessed with a quivering voice as the band turned bluesy.

Ms. West can write sweetly forthright songs like "The Day We Met," but she is also fond of pilgrimages, wanderings, and journeys home. "Sometime" starts with her driving away after being done wrong and ends with her still on the road observing, "Down goes the small man's dream/The franchise rise and provide." Another song, about leaving troubles behind, began, "Hallelujah, I lost my job." Her music is rooted and comfortable, but her best songs have a restless promise. - The New York Times


"Lizzie West: Songs of Herself"

The title of New York singer-songwriter Lizzie West's full-length debut album, "Holy Road" (Warner Brothers), is a clear hint as to what she's about. While her songs often sound bright and breezy, as a lyricist she is essentially an old-fashioned spiritual seeker whose artistic antecedents reach back to 1960's icons like Leonard Cohen and, even further, to nineteenth century proto-hippie poet Walt Whitman, whom she frequently quotes in conversations.

"Seven years ago I looked in the mirror and saw that I was not really who I imagined myself to be," says West, now 30, of her commitment to self-actualization. "I was more defined by what people said I should be."

West's epiphany coincided with a sojourn in Nashville -- the same place she first picked up the guitar in a serious way. "I found this used guitar, a Dolce, in a pawn shop for a hundred bucks," she recounts. "It was beat-up and black and so Elvis. I took it back to my hotel room and started banging out chords, showing myself how to play. And the songs just started coming out of me."

During the summer of 2000 West decided to travel across the country to find Leonard Cohen, whose "Bird on the Wire," she says, "had seeped into my subconscious." She actually found Cohen, now living in California and closely affiliated with a Zen monastery, and describes him as "the kindest, most wonderful man."

That adventure, along with a video record of numerous club appearances she made along the way, is documented in "Holy Road: The Movie," scheduled for release in 2004. West regards the film as a particularly special achievement. "You can get off your couch; imagine your reality and work to creat it. This film is proof of that."

West has long since given up the black guitar of her Nashville days. Instead, she uses a 2002 Taylor 214 for everything -- writing, performing, and recording. "I'm a one-guitar woman," says West. "Guitars are partners in writing a song; if I play too many, they don't get a chance to do their work." - Guitar World Acoustic


"Lizzie West, "Holy Road: Freedom Songs""

The front- and back-cover portraits are defiantly unglamorous but sexually charged, like mug shots as imagined by Helmut Newton. The photos represent but one of the several poses the onetime New York subway busker convincingly strikes on her arty and intriguing debut album. The flowing groove and logical hooks of "Time to Cry" could be mistaken for Natalie Merchant, whose voice West's smoky alto most closely resembles.

The vividly drawn relationship song "Dusty Turnaround" seems filched from John-Taupin songbook -- think "Tumbleweed Connection." On the soul/gospel production number "Holy Road," she morphs into a blue-eyed, blond Aretha, sounding like she's spent her life in the choir. And on the sleeper, "Doctor," she's Marianne Faithfull, Grace Jones, and PJ Harvey rolled into one. What's cool about the record is, every guise she adopts seems to further define her own identity. Neat trick. - Hits Magazine


Discography

+Original HOLY ROAD: SELF RELEASED
+WEST (a 4 song EP)
+"Chariots Rise" on the movie "Secretary" soundtrack
+Holy Road: Freedom Songs (the questions and answers of a poet traveling Home.) Warner Brothers Records, 2003
+19 Miles to Baghdad (self released) available for free download at http://www.19milestobaghdad.com

Radio play includes: XM Radio, 103.1 FM, KCRW, ACRN (99.3 FM and online at http://www.acrn.com) and many other stations across the country... Especially in Louisville, KY, Columbia, MO, Memphis, TN, and Baton Rouge, LA.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Lizzie West, the should-have-been love child of May West and Bob Dylan, is a true American original.

Drawing from major influences like: Walt Whitman, Nina Simone, Cat Stevens, Bill Whithers, Peggy Lee, William Blake, Janis Joplin, Oscar Wilde and Bob Marley, this artist from New York is making a mark on everyone she meets, not only with her literary work, her art and her philosophy but with her, much loved, music.

She is hard to classify and impossible to make comparisons to, but she is as familiar as your own heart.

Lizzie will tell you what life is like on the “holy road” with irony, honesty and humor. Her voice will go straight to your soul. She will sacrifice any “safety," break any taboo, and put away any pretense, to tell you the truth about her. Somewhere in that telling, you will, without a doubt, discover a truth about you that you needed to know, that you were starving for.

Her contemporaries would have to fall somewhere between Beck, Tracy Chapman and Bjork. The New York Times calls her “a Spiritual outlaw on the loose…”

The “holy road” begins…

In 1999, Lizzie self released the first edition of holy road. She then put herself on tour across America in the summer of 2000. Filmmaker Atar Schimmel traveled with her to film the start of Lizzie’s documentary, now titled, Living Life As Fiction: The Story of Holy Road. (coming soon, check livinglifeasfiction.com)

In 2000, Director Spike Lee capitalized on Lizzie’s charm, casting her in a national commercial for IAM.com in which she sang her title track, ‘holy road’, resulting in a long run on all of the major TV networks.

In 2001, Lizzie completed her first national tour as a solo acoustic opener for Kenny Wayne Shepherd. During the tour, Lizzie came to the attention of Warner Bros. Records. Negotiations began immediately and in August 2001, Lizzie entered into a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. Lizzie recorded the final version of holy road: freedom songs in Los Angeles that following summer and released it in April of 2003. AOL and Entertainment Weekly both chose her as a “Breaker Artist of the 2003.” Rave reviews started pouring in. (see press pack. For more reviews contact jessie@kickercampaign.com)

Songs from the record have been featured in several soundtracks including the highly acclaimed movie, “Secretary”, ABC’s “Alias”, NBC’s “Third Watch”, TBS’s “Dawson’s Creek”, HBO’s “Rock The Boat”, WB’s “Everwood”, NBC’s “Miss Match” and more..

Over the last year, Lizzie has toured throughout the United States with artists such as Chris Isaak, Howie Day, John Hiatt and Twinemen.

2004, Lizzie has just returned from a month of recording and filming (with photographer Rafael Fuchs) in the rebellious land of Jamaica. She will spend the Summer performing, once a week, in NYC and in the Hamptons. (for more info see lizziewest.com)

This Summer, Lizzie will also release, Independent of Warner Bros, her track “19 Miles To Baghdad.” (see 19 miles to baghdad.com) IT WILL BE AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD AND A LIMITED EDITION SIGNED CD CAN BE ORDERED ALSO.

And now, Lizzie is in discussions with several record labels, one of which will become home to her new album, “The Truth About Me : revolution songs.” (confessions of a folkie).

lizziewest.com, kickercampaign.com, livinglifeasfiction.com, cspsr.com and 19milestobaghdad.co