Some Amazing Reviews coming in for Bones and Gravity!
LIZANNE KNOTT CEMENTS HERSELF AS STANDOUT YET UNDERRATED SONGWRITER VIA ‘BONES AND GRAVITY’ (ALBUM REVIEW)
October 3, 2019 by Jim Hynes in Album Review
With now six solo albums to her credit, aside from her huge popularity in the UK, and in her home base region of Philadelphia, it’s fair to say that Lizanne Knott might still be an “emerging artist” in Americana terminology for national recognition. Her Bones and Gravity should go a long way in cementing her reputation, already held by many, as one of our best singer-songwriters.
A long-standing member of the Philadelphia music scene and managing partner of Grammy Award Winning Morning Star Studios, Knott has performed at some of the most prestigious listening venues in the US and throughout England, steadily gaining ground wherever she goes. She is a frequent featured artist on London’s acclaimed Bob Harris Show, BBC2 and other BBC stations, and she also receives airplay on
AAA radio throughout the US. A local favorite on Philadelphia’s award-winning WXPN, her music has been used in independent films, TV movies, documentaries and by national non-profit organizations. We last wrote about her on these pages for her fine collaborative trio project Sunset Avenue Sessions released late last year. Knott has a remarkably optimistic and refreshing outlook on life given a troubled childhood that had her on her own at an early age. She places this
quote, likely a personal credo, from Sylvia Plath, on the inside jacket – “perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.” Knott faced an abundance of material because she’d been writing for two years, she began to whittle down the songs, some half-written lyrics and melodies she’s recorded into her iPhone, to make this album. “I decided I wanted to create something personal and cohesive in nature. I wanted these songs to tell a story about the circumstances we all can find ourselves in, without placing blame on someone or something else,” Knott said.
It’s a personal manifesto of sorts, Knott navigates through pain and disillusion while managing to balance it with hope and laughter. Her long-time producer and engineer Glenn Barratt help her traverse a spectrum of emotions and sonic influences but keeps the sound organic and stays away from dense over-production. Accompanying Knott for the studio band are guitarist and pianist Ross Bellenoit, multiple string man Tom Hampton, bassists Chico Huff and Ken Pendergast, and drummer Erik Johnson. Additional musicians, including multi- instrumentalist Barratt, add guitars, cello, keys, violin, and background vocals.
”Walk Away,” as you might guess because it’s the ultimate negotiation tactic, is a pulsating, driving Springsteen-esque discourse on ending a failed relationship. The raw “Keep Me Alive” is autobiographical and a painful ode to survival with these two verses, exemplifying the tale – “Down at the mission I copped a few lines of cocaine/Wandered around until I was too numb to feel blame/I saw you walking the wind blowing warm in your hair/You walked right by me like you never had any care.....Now call on the angels cause it’s getting harder to breathe/Tell them I’m sorry and I need a ticket to leave/There’s a hole in my heart and I don’t think I can survive/I need somebody to hold me and keep me alive.”
The title track deals with love and loss. Either can happen in the link of an eye. Knott writes about losing someone close to her, saying she felt like her spirit had gone somewhere with the lost one. She claims that writing is her refuge when things get bleak. The cello creates the mournful vibe as she sings “But I know things you’ll never know/And honey that’s the way I’ll go/When everything we have, was never meant to last/And all that’s left for me are bones and gravity.” “Caroline” is about a person you first perceive is uncaring, maybe even mean until you realize it may not have been directed personally.
She holds little back about the bad person in the revengeful “Lay Him Down,” and then finds herself in a dilemma torn between Nashville and her home near Philly where her daughters live. “Emmylou” represents all that Knott likes about Nashville and her affection for her idol comes through. A clear standout track is “Hurricane.” Knott claims it would be close to her autobiography saving the line “I’m not a good friend.” The chorus is certainly memorable with the lines “I’m a Texas flood/I’m a burning house/I’m a hurricane in a wedding gown.” The band finds a nice driving tempo for this one while “Tired” rather appropriately is done without a band as she and Barratt (baritone guitar, piano, Wurlitzer) create intimacy.
”Kindness” was written for someone who came into her life at a pivotal time and impressed her. Later this unnamed person was criticized by another artist and was treated very badly She had only seen kindness in him, but the experience left her not knowing what to believe except that “kindness don’t cost a thing.” Finally we get the dog song in “Like I love My Dog.” Knott is renowned for her love for animals and work with shelters. The dog on the cover isn’t there by accident. The song may be a bit cliché’ but somehow the line “People leave you and let you down/But my dog will always stay” is clearly a part of who she is. The closer, “I Was a Bird” is also done without a band as she Barratt play a reflective dirge about coming back to a place you’re meant to be. Knott’s songs ring with so much honesty that sometimes they hurt because we can relate to much of it. They capture her struggles but leave us with hope.
AMERICANA UK -
Lizanne Knott “Bones and Gravity” (Independent, 2019)
Lizanne Knott is one of those wonderfully expressive singer-songwriters that sound as though, if they had gone down a different route, might have been swallowed up by mainstream Nashville’s blandness. Instead she, along with so many of her peers who are reviewed on this website, has developed a style of alt country-based Americana that is manna to the ears.
Priding herself on her lyrical prowess, Knott writes songs that are deeply personal and delivers them with an intimacy that opens those inner feelings to the scrutiny of a wider audience. In her own words “When life gets too hard to cope, I write.”
Examples of this personal introspection are littered liberally throughout this album. The title track ‘Bones and Gravity’ is about dealing with love and loss and how life can turn in the blink of an eye. It is probably the highlight of the album with the cello of Michael Ronstadt, nephew of Linda, and the background vocals of Ciara Grace and Antje Duvekot working in perfect harmony with a mournful guitar. It is a masterful piece of songwriting delivered with feeling by Knott’s smoky gravel tinged vocal.
‘Bones and Gravity’ was recorded in Knott’s native Pennsylvania but that almost inevitable draw to Nashville is exposed in the wonderful ‘Emmylou’. At a time when she was being torn between her family and friends at home and the desire to pursue a career through her residence in Nashville, Knott uses her long time draw to Emmylou’s music as inspiration for an achingly heartfelt song.
Knott’s vocals are perfectly suited to these kinds of stripped back, revealing songs and tracks such as ‘Tired’, a re ection on the point of a relationship where the feeling of monotony and resignation takes over are performed with an almost painful realism. There is an overall mood of contemplative re ection to the album and her accompanying musicians never threaten to relegate the vocals to the background, instead acting as perfectly balanced side dish to Knott’s main course.
‘Lay Him Down’ and ‘Hurricane’ are rare forays into more up-tempo territory and, while it is these tracks that veer closer to a country sound, they remain solidly rooted in high quality Americana. In short, Lizanne Knott continues to forge a path of her own, in the true spirit of Americana. ‘Bones and Gravity’ is a lovely piece of work, an album that showcases Knott’s talents as a writer and her ability to interpret them in song in equal measures.
LIZANNE KNOTT/Bones & Gravity: Perennially bubbling under, Knott goes deeply personal here with snippets culled from her Iphone and turned into the kind of set that'll propel her to the top at long last. Really tapping into her Lucinda side and channeling it into her own statements, Knott blows your ears open so mightily that you don't have to be a singer/songwriter fan to take this set to heart. Hard hitting throughout, she has really arrived, more so than on her past triumphs.
Lizanne Knott takes me to Paris
Lizanne Knott - Excellent Day
JUNE 8, 2016
Lizanne Knott is a folk singer. I know because I saw her at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Ok, so that isn’t a defining activity for anyone who plays there….but close. Actually categorizing music or musicians is not only not my strong suit but also not something I agree with too much.The point I’m making is that this album from the first listen to the last, and believe me the last is way far off, makes me feel like I am sitting in a smoke filled cafe in Paris listening to a wonderful singer sitting on a stool pouring her heart out. OK, so kill the smoke, except for Lizanne’s voice of course. I have heard it described as smoky and it is. Smoky, infectious, sexy and just plain enjoyable. Believe me any album that takes me back to Paris is a winner in my book but Excellent Day is much more than a memory invoking treat. It is one of those easy to listen to, warm, thought provoking efforts that you can listen to over and over.
It seems that a long time friend guitarist, Jef Lee Johnson, encouraged Lizanne to dig deeper and the result is the blues and jazz flavored Excellent Day. Thank you Jef Lee Johnson. Your influence has resulted in an album I enjoy and I am sure you would as well. Lizanne covered one of his songs for the title track “Excellent Day” which has a syncopated drum beat bed and a soothing guitar as the foundation for a strong suggestion not to mess with her excellent day. I wouldn’t dare. Knott also covers a Janis Ian song, ok so I guess she is a folk singer after all. “Sometimes” is absolutely a folk song, and a good one. Another cover is “It Ain’t Necessarily So” the George and Ira Gershwin classic.
The covers are great but I totally love the way the album starts “Come For The Kill” is a hard driving intro to the album that tells you right off that Lizanne Knott is about to open up her heart and pour it out for your enjoyment. I could easily comment on each and every song but I won’t. I have to leave something for you to discover and experience for yourself. And, I hope you do. I am pretty damn sure you will enjoy it. See you all in Paris.
Mark J. Smith
NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY Lizanne Knott review…March 14, 2016….
Posted March 14, 2016 by dvcrow56
COME FOR THE KILL–WHY YOU WANNA BREAK MY HEART–GOODBYE–IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO–RAINBOW CROW–TENNESSEE–NOT THIS TIME–LAY MY BURDEN DOWN–STOLEN CAR–SOMEDAY LOVE–SOMETIMES–EXCELLENT DAY
One cannot help but be drawn in by the enticing, smoky-sultry vocal style of Lizanne Knott. A true world traveler, she has put her musical stamp not only here in Music City, but in Philly and over in the UK as well. Her latest album, “Excellent Day,” has her delivering twelve originals dealing with love, loss, and redemption at the end of the day.
She begs the question, “what drives a cheating man” in “Why You Wanna Break My Heart?,” and defiantly takes a stand against another cruel lover, vowing “Not This Time” for any more of his transgressions. It features excellent piano from John Conahan, and banjo from Glenn Barratt.
That buttery-smooth vocal breathes life into the Biblically-themed characters of “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” done with a cool Peggy Lee vibe. The wistful “Tennessee” features Tom Hampton on pedal steel and dobro. The upbeat positivity of “Someday Love” recalls that vintage Nashville “countrypolitan” sound, and she closes the set with a Meters-inspired, jazzy shot of New Orleans strut, warning us all, “don’t mess with my Excellent Day!”
We had two favorites, too. That’s Steve Martin on banjo on the gospel sweetness of “goin’ home, Lord, and Lay My Burden Down.” And, one of the most powerful break-up songs you’ll ever hear is Lizanne’s poignant “you’re mine no more, Goodbye.” Adding to the ambience of this cut is muted trumpet from Josh Lawrence.
Lizanne Knott is quite a creative songwriter who can easily transport the listener into the world inhabited by her characters. Add in her stellar vocal reads, and “Excellent Day” is a brilliant outing from a very talented lady! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
LIZANNE KNOTT/Excellent Day (Proper)
Well looky here, this is the Lucinda Williams album we’ve been waiting for as the follow up to her white album. Perfectly capturing the smoky vocals that enticed us to want to share some passionate kisses backed by some solid industrial folk - bottoming heart touching writing, this is a perfect example of the kind of stuff excellence ears demanding the crème of the crop demand. On point throughout without a wasted note, Knott has proven herself to be the new belle of the ball. Killer stuff throughout.
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Lizanne Knott: Excellent Day – Album Review
by MIKE DAVIES on 5 APRIL, 2016
in ALBUM REVIEWS
A native of Philadelphia now based in Nashville, Lizanne Knott has built a dedicated following both in the States and here in the UK for her sultry brand of Americana; however, for ‘Excellent Day’, her fourth album, the recent death of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson prompted her to dig back into her blues and jazz roots, the result is a stew of the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans and vintage Nashville. Indeed, the laid back, brass coated, lazing blues title track is itself a Johnson penned number.
It’s not the only cover here. Sometimes, a melancholic, hushed voice and acoustic guitar ballad about love’s often brief nature, is an unreleased Janis Ian number only available as a download worktape on her site, It Ain’t Necessarily So is a smoky blues reading of the Gershwin classic with horns, fiddle and upright bass while she carries the world weary resignation of Springsteen’s Stolen Car on an arrangement of fiddle, slide, organ and drum programming.
Save for a collaboration with Bill Reveles on the percussion, piano and trumpet based mid-tempo New Orleans gospel groove Not This Time, the other tracks are all self-penned, kicking off with the tribal stomp beat of the seductive snake bite of Come For The Kill, taking a dusk-hung jazzy sway through the sweet chorus roll of Why You Wanna Break My Heart and the spare break up of Goodbye with its upright bass and muted trumped washed mood of lights reflecting in rainwashed city streets.
There’s a rootsier feel to the equally stripped down Tennessee, its wistful air etched out on simple acoustic guitar, the chorus embellished with dobro and pedal steel while, with its trumpet and Wurlitzer piano, the easy shuffling upbeat Someday Love leans more to a countrypolitan ragtime vibe and, as you may guess from the title, the steady rolling Lay My Burden Down is vintage roots gospel, complete with line echoing background vocals and featuring tasty slide from Pat Wictor and special guest Steve Martin on banjo.
Excellent Day is one for those albums for late summer nights filled with the smell of woodsmoke, the taste of a good bourbon and the glow of fireflies.