By Melora Koepke
Hour, October 20, 2005
Liz Phair’s pop-flavoured, self-titled last album landed her on the cover of Hour two years ago, and I wanted to know what she thought of our take on her. But Phair, it turns out, is one of those rock stars who can’t read her own press. Phair, it seems, is still reeling from the reaction to her last big outing, a piece of radio-ready crotch candy containing three songs written by Avril’s songwriting dream team, The Matrix. Who can blame her? Still, she’s back in business now and dead set on promoting Somebody’s Miracle, a wistful rock’n’roll standard with a breezy fuck-you laissez faire.
“Give me another couple of records, I’ll have another critical success,” she says, audibly shrugging in response to the yet-unasked question. “No matter what I do, if it’s on a major label, there are certain things I have to do… I think at some point in my life I’ll do that thing, the way Dylan came back with a record that was heartbreaking and awesome, I’ll do that. I can totally see in my future making a record where it all comes together.”
In other words, Somebody’s Miracle is not that record.
It seems Phair is plagued with the mixed blessing of her past successes: Exile in Guyville, now 12 years old, still means a great deal to a whole lot of people.
“People want to keep a certain image of an artist. But I can’t help thinking, I’m sure those same [journalists] write stories for money, so you would think they would understand. But there was this sense that I was supposed to be representing them, almost if I had been elected, and had let my constituents down.”
Yes, Somebody’s Miracle is yet another bouncy record, but Phair is fair. The good news is that her new show is stripped-down, raw and acoustic, just how most Phair fans like it. But she’s also a divorced 30-something single mom who still wants to write what she’s living.
“I can’t write another Guyville, and I don’t want to,” she says. “I don’t live that life any more. When I was making [that music] I was not a mother, I didn’t have a job, I smoked a lot of pot, I went out to the bars at night and I lived this removed existence from society, in this little bubble of alternative rock. I don’t think at my age if I was still doing that it would be pretty.”