DEFYING gravity is a byword for singer songwriter Lisa Richards. Not solely is “Ready to Fly” the title of her eighth album, borne out of repeated lockdowns and isolation, however her launch later this month might be a musical celebration of “chickening out” together with her personal songs and tales.
However defying gravity additionally has a darker aspect for Richards who, talking of her youthful years of dependancy to something she may lay her fingers on, says: “I had by no means had any desires, or hopes, or objectives besides to get excessive and keep excessive till I died.”
For those who take heed to Richards’ voice, you’ll always remember it. Described by critics as “each ferocious and candy”, it has an odd combination of thinness and depth. Once I meet up with her, I ask how she views it.
“It’s the one voice I’ve ever identified in order that I can solely inform you the place different individuals put me,” she says.
“Some individuals evaluate me to Bjork or Joanna Newsom, however I see myself as singing a mongrel combine of people, jazz and blues – a distinct voice.”
She’s observed many individuals sing in a distinct voice from the one they communicate with, which means that the singing voice should be affected.
“With me, I don’t try this… I believe individuals discover that refreshing,” she says.
At 59, Richards says she’s starting to really feel grown-up. After 22 years dwelling within the US, she fell in love with a Canberran, now her husband, and has lived right here for 9 years.
After we speak, I hear an Aussie accent, however she says some individuals suppose she has one and a few suppose she doesn’t, including, “voice is at all times a topic of nice consideration for me”.
When younger, she used to get in bother for sounding too Townsville – that’s the place she was born – however now individuals suppose English isn’t her first language.
Richards’ troubled Townsville youth is nicely behind her. The daughter of a psychiatrist, she was launched to antipsychotic medication as a lady of 4 or 5 years previous, given within the perception that if one medicated youngsters, it might calm them down.
“The primary time I bought drunk… I used to be seven and I didn’t have a lot supervision. I used to be very sad so I began to search for an escape.”
At 20, she headed south, busked in Kings Cross, imbibed any substance she may get, then went to rehab at 26.
“Music was my escape, however I didn’t follow it till I used to be an grownup, though my mom had been a pianist,” she says.
Inspired by a drummer buddy, she left Australia for New York with no Inexperienced Card, then visited the South By Southwest Convention in Austin, Texas the place, she says, “it felt like house, it opened up a complete world… It was about actual music-making, not superstars. It broadened my imaginative and prescient”.
She was married to a bass participant there for 14 years, all of the whereas sustaining her sobriety.
She’s been 9 years in Canberra now and has learnt that it doesn’t matter the place you reside, you may have a great life in the event you put your self to it.
“The humanities scene right here could be very completely different, and I believe it’s rising and getting stronger,” she says. “ It’s taken me a very long time to get related, however now I’m.”
Thoughts you, she has reached out to American contacts, too, sourcing southern Californian-based percussionist Larry Salzman and touring guitarist Clint Wells for her new album “Ready to Fly” and sure, the acronym is WTF.
Lately Richards’ songs are about defying the low moments, so when individuals say she sings the blues, she know a true-blues aficionado wouldn’t agree “as a result of the blues are concerning the highs and the lows, however the way in which I sing could be very a lot cabaret with a bluesy contact”.
Now with the discharge of her new album, Richards is able to fly.
“I’ve had extra highs being a composer than I ever did,” she says,
Lisa Richards, Road Theatre, November 26.
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Ian Meikle, editor