What James Brown said some 40 years ago is still very true today: It’s a man’s world. That’s still true in music, as well. Pop music, for the past half century or more, has been dominated by one pretty pervasive phallic symbol: the guitar. Maybe it’s surprising, then, that Elizabeth Powell stands out so much on this record.
Let us make no mistake: Some Are Lakes, the first full-length from Land of Talk, is certainly a guitar record, but not some kind of fret-tapping, lightspeed-shredding guitar record. Neither is it some kind of convenient pop contrivance where the inclusion of guitars was just incidental in the album’s production. This is the kind of whiskey-induced guitar rock that you might expect to come from the regular band at your local bar, if the regular band at your local bar was really good.
And the album is propelled just as much by Powell’s vocals. Her lazy, sugary voice wants to bring every lost hope and pang to a boil on the album’s title track. On "Young Bridge," Powell’s unfortunate caution makes its way into the listener’s skin and lives there. The record’s instrumentation gives its vocals form, but the vocals give the instrumentation a story.
The wonder of Some Are Lakes is the fact that such arguably masculine instrumentation goes such a long way to buoy Powell’s lady vocals. Neither takes a backseat, and the combination feels way natural. Maybe they should play this stuff at Taoist temples or something.