Review ·

After
a five-year hiatus, Liz Phair released a self-titled album in 2003 that
was almost universally despised by critics. It was also her first
record to garner significant mainstream attention. After years as an
indie favorite, Phair unapologetically made an album that reflected her
desire for radio play, and Liz Phair came out
overdone, as if there were too many production hands in the pie. As
apparent as it was that Phair wanted to be a pop star, it wasn't quite
clear what kind of pop star she wanted to be (Avril Lavigne? Sheryl
Crow? A dirty-talking Michelle Branch?).

[more:]

 

On Somebody's Miracle,
Phair seems much more settled with the idea of herself as someone who
writes songs that could be hits, and that makes this album much more
consistent. There's a definite "adult alternative" vibe here. Phair's
oldest fans may not find this very interesting, but it certainly suits
her better than did the pop-rock aspirations of Liz Phair. A few songs - Got My Own Thing and Why I Lie" - wouldn't be out of place on Whitechocolatespaceegg, making Somebody's Miracle feel
like a not-completely-illogical follow-up to that album, released in
1998. Still, though it's easier to believe that the songs on Miracle
are Liz Phair songs (albeit squeaky clean, polished Liz Phair songs), I
was left wishing that the personal imprint translated into more
distinctive music.

 

And the ambivalence that marked Liz Phair
is not gone entirely. The three tracks co-written and produced by John
Shanks aren't quite out of place, but they are noticeably different
than the rest of the songs, most of which were produced by John Alagia
(Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer). Shanks worked on Lindsay Lohan's
album, which is probably where "Count on My Love" really belongs. That
song would also sound better if Lohan were singing it. Part of the fun
of Phair's earlier albums is how easy they are to sing along to, but Miracle
resists tapping into the refreshingly everywoman quality of Phair's
voice. Instead, she gets overpowered by the instrumental production on
lead single "Everything to Me," then strains to carry the quieter
ballad "Closer to You."

 

Somebody's Miracle is a collection of pleasantly catchy, if unremarkable, pop songs. For longtime Phair fans who thought listening to Liz Phair was like running into a friend from high school who you genuinely miss and having her get drunk and puke on your shoes, Somebody's Miracle
will be a far less awkward run-in. Sure, you don't have that much in
common anymore, but at least you can be relieved she got her shit
together. The fact that she made her own choice to play by someone
else's rules isn't so heartbreaking anymore.

 

Liz Phair fan site

 

Liz Phair on Matadorrecords.com

 

Capitol Records


Discuss this review at The Prefix Message Board

  • Leap Of Innocence
  • Wind And The Mountain
  • Stars And Planets
  • Somebody's Miracle
  • Got My Own Thing
  • Count On My Love
  • Lazy Dreamer
  • Everything To Me
  • Closer To You
  • Table For One
  • Why I Lie
  • Lost Tonight
  • Everything (Between Us)
  • Giving It All To You
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