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Liars and Prayers

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Album Review

It's true that the main ingredients of Thalia Zedek's music — the permanent, aching rasp in her voice, her guitar's bluesy bite, the startlingly clear-eyed lyrics about life and loss — have been constant since her earliest projects. Over time, though, the way she puts those ingredients together has evolved into a sound that's still intense but more restrained, and even tempered with a little softness. Zedek looks backward to move forward on Liars and Prayers, the first album billed to the Thalia Zedek Band. Leading a full-fledged group for the first time since Come disbanded, Zedek balances her essential power and more recent restraint, transforming them into formidable but still graceful music that borrows from the most poetic parts of rock and jazz. "Next Exit" opens Liars and Prayers with just a taste of what the Thalia Zedek Band can do, building from brushed drums and subtle viola and guitar interplay and swelling up with gritty fuzz bass and serpentine pianos as Zedek wails "There are no half measures/Only the lost and the winners." "Body Memory" is somehow even more darkly majestic and effortless, flowing from raging guitar crescendos to sleek rhythms that channel all of the song's force. This song and "We Don't Go" give Zedek's yearning and desperation a lighter, more graceful touch than it had in the past, a feeling echoed by lyrics like "Wind"'s "We passed the scars of the place we were looking for" — the emotions are no less powerful, even if they're not immediately anguished. Throughout Liars and Prayers, Zedek's band — which includes pianist Mel Lederman and multi-instrumentalist David Michael Curry, who both played on 2004's Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch of Madness, and new additions drummer/percussionist Daniel Coughlin and bassist Winston Braman — surround her with virtuosic but not histrionic playing, whether they go into the more ragged terrain of "Begin to Exhume" or the jazzier realms of "Lower Allston." Liars and Prayers' only flaw may be that its unflagging intensity is almost overwhelming, given that the album is nearly an hour long, but it's still some of Zedek's most thoughtful and full-bodied work.


Born: 1961 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Having sung with such widely respected underground alternative bands as Come, Live Skull, and Uzi (among others), frontwoman Thalia Zedek has enjoyed quite a long and illustrious career. Zedek got her start in music shortly after relocating from Washington, D.C., to Boston in the late '70s, when she fronted such obscure bands as White Women and the all-female Dangerous Birds (the latter had a song, "Smile on Your Face," featured on the infamous Sub Pop 100 compilation). By 1983, Zedek had left Dangerous...
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Liars and Prayers, Thalia Zedek
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