Liz Phair | Soberish - Clear Vinyl
Limited edition indies-only gatefold 'Milky Clear' vinyl
Liz Phair announces ‘Soberish’, her highly-anticipated new album and first collection of original material in eleven years. Produced by Phair’s longtime collaborator Brad Wood - known for helming Phair’s seminal albums ‘Exile In Guyville’, ‘Whip-Smart’ and ‘whitechocolatespaceegg’ - ‘Soberish’ is released via Chrysalis Records.
Almost thirty years since her peerless debut album ‘Exile In Guyville’ was released (voted #56 in Rolling Stone’s 2020 list of the 500 Greatest albums Of All Time), Phair returns with a new record that will both intrigue and satisfy her long-standing fans and introduce her to a smart young audience whose contemporary heroes have been reading from Phair’s playbook since they first picked up a guitar.
Liz Phair has achieved the kind of status in her industry rarely bestowed on recording artists. Her albums in the 1990s were central to the indie rock canon of the day. Her image was featured in countless magazines, early Apple commercials and Gap ads. Her eponymous album for Capitol Records in 2003 took Phair in a pop direction that ruffled some critics’ feathers but nonetheless went gold, galvanizing a host of new fans, particularly among young women who fell in love with hits like ‘Why Can’t I’ and ‘Extraordinary’, tracks that were featured in several major films and TV shows, including 13 Going On 30, Raising Helen and How To Deal. Liz has picked up two Grammy nominations and a spot in Pitchfork’s Greatest Albums Of The 90s, with over five million record sales to date (including three US gold albums). She sang ‘God Bless America’ at the opening game of the Chicago White Sox World Series victory in her hometown in 2005.
‘Soberish’ is a portrait of Phair in the present tense, taking all of the facets of her melodic output over the years and synthesizing them into a beautiful, perfect whole. She’s at the top of her game in the recording studio, drawing upon years of experience in television composition to weave through the songs daring and unexpected sound design. With Brad Wood’s exquisite engineering and masterful production, the result is a wholly fresh yet satisfyingly familiar sound that challenges on the first listen and seduces with each subsequent play through. The earworms are strong with this one.
Phair says, “I found my inspiration for ‘Soberish’ by delving into an early era of my music development, my art school years spent listening to Art Rock and New Wave music non-stop on my Walkman. The English Beat, The Specials, Madness, R.E.M.s Automatic for the People, Yazoo, The Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, and the Cars. The city came alive for me as a young person, the bands in my headphones lending me the courage to explore.”
None of the arrangements on Soberish are traditional songwriting standards but the hooks are so catchy, the imagery so compelling, that the listener is drawn effortlessly along with the music. There are the off-kilter, unexpected guitar chords listeners will recognize as her signature style, a mainstay from her earliest work; the instantly knowable choruses of her most pop-friendly songs of the early 2000s; the frank lyricism and storytelling that has opened doors for countless women picking up guitars and attempting to speak about their experiences.
Phair shares insight into the meaning of her title: “‘Soberish’ can be about partying. It can be about self-delusion. It can be a about chasing that first flush of love or, in fact, any state of mind that allows you to escape reality for a while and exist on a happier plane. It’s not self-destructive or out of control; it’s as simple as the cycle of dreaming and waking up. That’s why I chose to symbolize ‘Soberish’ with a crossroads, with a street sign. It’s best described as a simple pivot of perspective. When you meet your ‘ish’ self again after a period of sobriety, there’s a deep recognition and emotional relief that floods you, reminding you that there is more to life, more to reality and to your own soul than you are consciously aware of. But if you reach for too much of a good thing, or starve yourself with too little, you’ll lose that critical balance.”