Liz Phair has announced details of, Soberish, her highly-anticipated new album, and first collection of original material in eleven years. Produced by Phair’s longtime collaborator Brad Wood – known for helming Phair’s seminal albums Exile In Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg – Soberish will be released on June 4th, 2021 via Chrysalis Records.
“Spanish Doors”, the album’s opening track, is available to hear below.
Phair describes the song as being “about the fracturing of a beautiful life, when everything you counted on is suddenly thrown up for grabs.” She explains, “I drew inspiration from a friend who was going through a divorce, but the actions in the lyrics are my own. I relate to hiding out in the bathroom when everyone around you is having a good time, but your life just fell apart. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder who you are now, shadows of doubt creeping into your eyes. Just a few moments ago you were a whole, confident person and now you wonder how you’ll ever get the magic back.” The inventive musical sections vault over each other in an exhilarating rush and the contradictory emotions in the layered vocals speak to a universal truth that when bad news arrives, it never picks a good time.
Soberish is a portrait of Phair in the present tense, taking all of the facets of her melodic output over the years and synthesizing them into a beautiful, perfect whole. She’s at the top of her game in the recording studio, drawing upon years of experience in television composition to weave through the songs daring and unexpected sound design. With Brad Wood’s exquisite engineering and masterful production, the result is a wholly fresh yet satisfyingly familiar sound that challenges on the first listen and seduces with each subsequent play through. The earworms are strong with this one!
Phair says, “I found my inspiration for Soberish by delving into an early era of my music development, my art school years spent listening to Art Rock and New Wave music non-stop on my Walkman. The English Beat, The Specials, Madness, R.E.M.s Automatic for the People, Yazoo, The Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, and the Cars. The city came alive for me as a young person, the bands in my headphones lending me the courage to explore.”
None of the arrangements on Soberish are traditional songwriting standards, but the hooks are so catchy, the imagery so compelling, that the listener is drawn effortlessly along with the music. There are the off-kilter, unexpected guitar chords listeners will recognize as her signature style, a mainstay from her earliest work; the instantly knowable choruses of her most pop-friendly songs of the early 2000’s; the frank lyricism and storytelling that has opened doors for countless women picking up guitars and attempting to speak about their experiences.