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CD Reviews: Review of Somebody's Miracle by Liz Phair
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Liz Phair: Somebody's Miracle (Capitol 2006)

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There are too many grumpy old school Liz Phair fans still milling about. Too many who want the woman to do nothing but re-record her debut Exile in Guyville over and over because they’re under the (wrong) impression that that was and will always be her best album no matter what. They want the raw sound, the sexually frank lyrics, the bullshit that goes with being in your twenties and not knowing exactly what to do with the world. Sadly, these people haven’t seemed to escape 1993 and move on with their lives, unlike Liz, who has no interest in repeating or re-living her past. In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s released four more albums since then.

Besides, it was the funky Whip-Smart, her second album that was the most enjoyable from her Matador label days. Of course, those hardcore old fans have always had a distaste for it, because it wasn’t the first album. But what do they know? Now they’re just bitching about how Liz has forgotten all about them, taking voice lessons, and actually wanting to work with bigger producers and a bigger budget. She struck gold with those notions on her self-titled album, a glimmering thing that easily squashed her truly weakest album, whitechocolatespaceegg, a sort of finding-herself item after giving birth and dealing with her new life as a mother.

But you know how it goes. Supposedly, if you work with the production team The Matrix, you’re instantly labeled as a sellout. Whatever. Phair was just fulfilling her dream of being successful beyond the fringe. It worked, and brought her a whole new audience who weren’t overly concerned with whether or not “Fuck and Run” was an anthem for disillusioned Gen-X chicks. So of course it would only have surprised the grumpy old regime when Liz didn’t change her course and released another radio-friendly pop album, Somebody’s Miracle.

On this outing, Phair continues to eschew the angrier relationship tunes of yore with more contemporary fare such as “Count on My Love” and “Giving It All to You.” Doubtless this disenchants many, and this is why I’ve never been able to understand so many of Liz’s fans. Why can’t they just be happy for her and her success? Must she always be scratching about, being pissed off at men and asserting a bitchy side? Isn’t asserting a loving, womanly side just as admirable? How anyone could not find a new song like “Stars and Planets” or “Wind and the Mountain” a creative leap forward, filled with lush, melodic overtones, is anyone’s guess.

And it really is a leap forward. God knows that on the Liz Phair album, “H.W.C.” was an incredibly embarrassing and crappy tune that tried to hard to please those grumpy fans. Luckily, Somebody’s Miracle doesn’t contain any such gaffes. And while some might be quick to claim that Phair is just playing it safe anymore, I say that’s not true. And true to herself, she even recently played a live show with just her and her guitar to prove to the audience that her new stuff isn’t that far away from her older stuff. Some folks just can’t take a “production,” though. Who knows why? No one ever complains about Beatles albums being overproduced, and yet when they let it all hang out on Let It Be, that album was slaughtered. Rightly so, but that’s another tale entirely.
The whole point is that Liz Phair has always done it for herself. Now that she’s a “success” by everyone else’s standards, some feel left behind. But this fan has never understood that whole mind fuck of only being a fan when it suits your own personal beliefs and/or lifestyle. To suddenly turn away from great music because it’s now a bit more popular and sounds a bit more shiny doesn’t put you in the fan camp. Not that Liz cares one bit. You Exile fans can just keep holding your breath. It’s never going to happen again. And I say that’s just fine.

~Jason Thompson 


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