By Alan Sculley
The Salem News, October 13, 2005
Prior to her 2003 self-titled CD, Liz Phair was embraced by fans as one of the most daring and substantial songwriters to emerge from the 1990s indy rock scene.
She earned the reputation largely through her 1993 release, Exile In Guyville, essentially a song-by-song retort to the Rolling Stones’ classic album, “Exile On Main Street.
Fans cheered her willingness to explore her sexuality in the bluntest terms, her sharp songwriting and he lo-fi production that gave Exile In Guyville its edge.
But in 2003 upon the release of her fourth CD, Liz Phair, she met with quite the opposite reaction. Fans vilified the artist, saying she sold out by co-writing several polished pop songs with the Matrix, the songwriting team that helped write hits for Avril Lavigne, including her omnipresent ballad, “Complicated.”.
Liz Phair, critics accused, seemed to have been created with radio play in mind.
Now touring in support of her fall release, Somebody’s Miracle, Phair, who publicly voiced her surprise at how venomous the reaction to the last record was, is making no apologies.
She says Somebody’s Miracle, an undeniable mix of her earlier style and the pop of Liz Phair, is an accurate representation of her life and musical ambitions today, as were Exile and her self-titled release.
“It wasn’t a lifelong thing. It was just one record,” said Phair, 38, in a phone interview before the start of a tour that will bring her to Avalon in Boston tomorrow.
“I sort of look at it like this is now and then next will be something different and next will be something different. Like there’s no rhyme or reason why I’m into any one given thing at any time,” she said. “To me Liz Phair stands as a perfect little memory of the pop period. So my only regret is the misunderstanding between me and my fans.”
Somebody’s Miracle, Phair said, probably won’t generate as harsh a reaction as Liz Phair, but it may not win back fans who were disappointed, either.
The CD at times is edgier, rougher and more reminiscent of Exile In Guyville, especially on songs like “Wind And The Mountain” and “Why I Lie”. But songs like “Stars And Planets”, “Everything To Me” and “Count On My Love” are pop.
“Got My Own Thing” and “Can’t Get Out Of What I’m Into” offer high points, but many fans will consider Somebody’s Miracle a mixed bag, rather than the stirring return to form.
Regardless, Phair said the consistent sound of Somebody’s Miracle is a reflection of the more settled life she is living after relocating from her home town of Chicago to Los Angeles and moving through the upheaval of her divorce from film editor Jim Staskauskas.
“This (new) stuff really came after a period where I did settle down and I really can call Los Angeles my home and I have friends that I’ve known for years now,” Phair said.
“And I’ve been in a relationship for three years (with band member Dino Meneghin). So it followed that I would be writing from a deeper, more settled place. So it just appeared for me, because that’s sort of the next thing for me, trying to maintain and deepen my relationships.”