ELIZABETH & THE CATAPULT – Taller Children (Verve Forecast)
Another new group, and I tried this one as it was described as jazz-pop with a female vocal, and there is just not enough of that around at the moment. Firstly, Elizabeth Ziman has a superb voice and writes some quirky, catchy, and downright enjoyable songs. Her band plays them with just the right amount of jazzy backing and pop nous, and the end result is so infectious that I loved this whole album after just one listen. ‘Momma’s Boy’ is a perfect encapsulation of her style, with her two bandmates providing a full sound, and with a melody that lingers long after the song has finished. The title track might come over as a bit twee with its theory that adults are just ‘taller children’, but musically it is a great jazzy pop song, and even experiments with some treated vocals and a subtle horn section in the middle. ‘Rainiest Day Of Summer’ is a melancholy ballad, with the music suiting the lyrics perfectly, and conjuring up a picture of staring out of the window on a rainy day. If there is one criticism of this song, and of some other parts of the album, it is that considering that the band is only a trio, the strings and horns tagged onto some of the songs sometimes give them an overly lush sound. I would like to have heard that last song with just the band playing it, as I feel that they could have produced a more subtle version of the song. ‘Apathy’ starts off with just Elizabeth and her guitar, before the strings come in to help this atmospheric ballad, and in this case they work as they are saved just for the chorus. ‘The Hang Up’ keeps the jazzy undertones to a minimum for this catchy pop song, and ‘Hit The Wall’ is given a funky feel with some syncopated guitar. ‘Right Next To You’ is a great jazzy pop song, evoking memories of Sadé at her peak, and it is followed by an inventive cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’, with just Elizabeth and an echo-laden drum for the first two verses, before the band and strings come in for the chorus and rest of the song. ‘Complimentary Me’ shows Elizabeth’s quirky side, with one of her oddly surreal lyrics welded to a country/rockabilly beat, and they follow that with a couple of gorgeous ballads in the shape of ‘Golden Ink’ and ‘Just In Time’, and the fact that the latter is just piano and vocal and sounds utterly beautiful underlines my previous point about the production. The album closes with ‘Perfectly Perfect’ – Elizabeth at her most playful with a witty and humourously self-denigrating piece, and a great way to finish. This album is a breath of fresh air amongst the doomy indie kids and weird alt-rock that I generally listen to, and is guaranteed to lighten my mood should I ever need a break from them. Very highly recommended.
Just In Time