SONG PREMIERE: Lady Lazarus Conjures Quiet and Moving Folk Sound With “Driving The Streets Of Your Town”

Lady Lazarus is the solo project of Melissa Ann Sweat, a California-based singer-songwriter, artist, and creative writer who has received significant attention for her singular brand of spirited and enchanting “dream folk-pop,” composed for mainly voice and keyboard/piano.

Her thoughtful, almost existentialist lyrics and intimate confessions are sung in a lovely mezzosoprano that is alternatingly delicate and commanding. Combined with her uniquely elegant, powerful, yet winsome playing on piano/keys, makes for a listening experience that is at once movingly heartfelt while at the same time mysterious and filled with artful grandeur. Her songwriting comes in several modes: from the ephemeral and dreamy to more earthy, folky tunes, to dramatic ballads and near minimalist-classical pieces. And somehow all resolve and revolve beautifully in the mastery of her own particular craft, straddling the lines of timeless singer-songwriters, dream pop, folk, folk rock, classical, and outsider music. Her work is one of contrasts: both dark and light, vulnerable and strong, quiet and thundering.

Among Lady Lazarus’ influences are Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Sparklehorse, Cat Power, Bill Callahan, and Vashti Bunyan, to name a few, as well as more outsider artists like Connie Converse and Ed Askew. She has also garnered comparisons to Grouper, Regina Spektor, Daniel Johnston, Erik Satie, and Philip Glass, among others.

Lady Lazarus is now currently living in Santa Cruz County, just a few blocks from the ocean, where she completed a suite of songs for her latest album to come, Impossible Journey Of My Soul Tonight, which is out October 18th. The album was recorded in March of 2019 at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studios in Oakland with Producer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab For Cutie, Tuneyards, Sparklehorse, Bob Mould). On it, Sweat plays grand piano, upright piano, keyboard, Rhodes, electric strings, electric vibraphone, and Moog, along with singing vocal overlays and managing overall Executive Production. Sorenson’s delicate and highly-skilled production adds gorgeous and moody atmosphere to Sweat’s songs in the form of synths, pads, and subtle and surprising sonic textures. Along with Sorenson’s artful work, Sweat collaborated with her friend, saxophonist Tony Devincentis, on his both smoky and powerful contributions to the album, recording with Engineer Barry Tanner in Boulder Creek, Calif. Sorenson and Sweat later completed final production touches and mixing of the record in late March at Sorenson’s former home studio in Berkeley.

Lady Lazarus’ Impossible Journey Of My Soul Tonight is the culmination Sweat’s long personal, creative, and spiritual journey. Here, her songwriting is its most refined and actualized, while still bearing the unique signature and humanity of her former works. Influences for the album include songwriting heavyweights such as (her favorite) Tom Waits, Van Morrison (particularly Beautiful Vision), Nick Cave, Stevie Nicks, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joanna Newsom, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Springsteen, with some more modern references to Lana Del Rey, and Grimes. But the album is entirely her own, as is her journey. Through Sweat’s personal “shadow work,” she has succeeded at depth to reveal, shed light upon, and work to heal her darkest wounds, and turn them into mysterious, insightful, gorgeous, determined, and, even hopeful, songs. Vulnerability, power, beauty, and courage abound on this record… and it is Sweat’s intention for these songs and music to not only provide comfort from her own “dark night of the soul,” but to comfort those listeners, too, who are also suffering through dark times, or who are struggling, fighting, and working today to heal their own trauma, hearts, and souls on their journey through life.

Today Glide is excited to premiere “Driving The Streets Of Your Town”, one of the standout singles on the new album. Bringing to mind Bruce Springsteen in terms of the musical tone and lyrics, the piano-driven song is a quiet meditation on observing someone else’s environment and feeling a sort of detachment. There is a soft-spoken feel to the song, as if its singer is sharing a secret, making for a moving and powerful piece of folk. 

Sweat shares the inspiration behind the song:

“This was one of those rarer melodies that came to me out of the air one morning, in fact, right when waking and just the day before I was leaving to travel to Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague on vacation. I went immediately downstairs to my keyboard and started figuring out the notes, then most of the song’s form came to me as I explored more that morning. I immediately thought of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire,’ and wanted to evoke some of that with the production we did later on the track. The lyrics I finished up later on vacation, singing them into my phone when I arrived at my place in Prague.”


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