Lizzy Hardingham – How Did We Get Here?: Album Review

Lizzy Hardingham’s latest album examines concepts such as self, nature, purpose and community and their impact on the mental health of the modern-day musician.

Release Date: 19th October 2022

Label: Self-released

Format: CD/Digital

The title of Lizzy Hardingham’s new album makes me recall a Billy Connolly anecdote, in which he asked a hotel receptionist in Liverpool how to walk to a central location and she screwed her face up pensively and eventually answered, “I don’t think you can get there from here.” Whilst Liverpool is hardly a labyrinth and the answer was as unhelpful as it was untrue, it also contained an unavoidable truth. Life’s path is not often clear. Furthermore, as the album’s titular question suggests, reaching our destination can often be accidental, or if you read it with quizzical emphasis on the last word, where we end up can also leave us feeling dislocation and disbelief.

Throw in a pandemic to halt the machinery of the live music industry entirely and to lay dormant the daily personal interactions upon which performers both thrive and frequently base their songs and you have a 2020 world in which the here and now felt disconcertingly small and narrow. We were locked in and the future felt somehow locked out. But it’s now 2022 and we made it through. So how did we get here and where do we find ourselves? How do we locate ourselves when we feel lost? Lizzy Hardingham offers eight tracks that examine those questions from a musician’s perspective.

Various answers to the album’s key question transpire, from the relative straightforwardness of ‘by car’ on The Road, to the more emotive ‘with resilience and optimistic joy’ on Less Than Two, ‘by daring to stand strong’ on Jumping The Waves and ‘with the support of loved ones’ on They Will. To maintain existential balance, wherever ‘here’ is can be more unsettling and precarious and the way forward can feel blurry – very much like Billy Connolly’s hotel receptionist. I Could Have Loved You and Five Lonely Voices evoke two different aspects of isolation. The former examines the effect of self-isolation, not reaching out to others, whilst the latter’s narrator is alone in a hotel by circumstance, but the “sweetest release” from that loneliness comes from a familiar voice connecting via the telephone.

There’s plenty to enjoy about this album. Interview snippets from artists such as Nancy Kerr, Julie Matthews and Blair Dunlop provide epilogues to each song. They offer a grounding and real insight into the juxtaposing perils and pleasures of the musician’s life, especially in recent times. I Could Have Loved You has some classic folky Fairport Convention stylings. There’s a steady, sturdy, country-inflected acoustic rock sound to many of the songs that makes it easy on the ears despite its emotionally weighty conceptual qualities. It also makes it a great album to have on in the car, particularly if you’re driving on your own on a motorway. In that situation, you’d be able to crank up the volume and belt out the many splendid choruses that gild the album. Singing Together in particular has a fine example of a canbelto chorus as well as being such an uplifting final track.

But if you can out-Hardingham the Hardingham on the choruses, you must have one hell of a pair of lungs. It’s been said by more or less anyone that’s ever been anywhere near a Lizzy Hardingham performance, but her vocal power is exhilarating. When she’s opened the vocal floodgates and let the notes flood out, I’m inclined not to care where I end up. I’m along for the ride.

Here’s The Road, about which Lizzy says: “I wrote this song in response to Luke Jackson’s ‘On The Road’, about the duality of being a touring musician. It’s a wonderful and vibrant life to lead but also has its testing moments when all you need is home.”

Lizzy Hardingham online: Website / Facebook / Youtube / Instagram / Bandcamp

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