By Gary Graff
The Plain Dealer, October 6, 2005
Liz Phair staked her reputation in 1993 with Exile in Guyville, a bold, song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones’ 1972 classic Exile on Main Street.
She almost did the same kind of thing with her latest album, Somebody’s Miracle (Capitol). Phair says that when she started work on the album in September 2004, she considered doing a similar counterpart piece to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.
“It had been a record I always heard about but never actually listened to in its entirety,” Phair says. “I was totally blown away – as you could imagine anyone would be. It’s a record that speaks to everything I’m into right now, and it addresses everything I’ve been feeling.
“It’s one of those things where I thought, ‘Oh my God – I’ve found another Exile on Main Street.”
Ultimately, however, Phair decided to abandoned the parallel plan, though she says Songs in the Key of Life remained an inspiration throughout the making of Somebody’s Miracle.
“We tried in the beginning to kind of funk up my music, which didn’t work,” Phair says. “I just decided it was better to be yourself, to not imitate but take an example and try to challenge yourself and make your music your way.
“I kind of let [Songs in the Key of Life] go as an exact template and just tried to pull from it what I really thought was essential in what I learned.”