Liz Phair

    Somebody’s Miracle

    5

    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


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