Artists who evoke the darker moods and emotions of the human experience have a tough time of it in the United States. Whereas overseas listeners can place such music into a broader artistic context (after all, the movie 24 Hour Party People
did make the connection between Joy Division and the Happy Mondays), people here struggle to see it as anything less than a suicide note or the sullen complaints of a spooky poet who stopped taking her Prozac. Such are the problems that have dogged singer/songwriter Lisa Germano since she emerged from John Cougar Mellencamp's entourage to deliver her own sepia-toned, little-girl-lost vision. While enjoying great acclaim from the likes of David Bowie and a healthy European following through her early work on 4AD, Germano appears incapable of oozing the treacly sentiments Americans love to hear from female songwriters. Fortunately, Germano lives in her own world, where such petty concerns do not move her, and we're welcomed into it yet again with Lullaby for Liquid Pig
, a gentle, unassuming foray into a serene yet unsettling dreamtime.
Like fellow empath Rosanne Cash, Germano reserves a special place in her soul for the lullaby, revisiting the form in various guises over the album's 30 minutes. Punctuated at points by a forlorn piano motif that jumps in unexpectedly, Liquid Pig explores the fantasies and hopes of an unnamed soul, simultaneously mocking and defending the human need for a protective inner universe. In keeping with the aesthetic, the album's soundscape is all distanced piano and lots of reverb and surprisingly little violin, although Germano does let in a little light with the country-tinged "It's Party Time" and the hopeful closer "... to dream" -- the latter added at the urging, Germano observed during a recent performance, of her own mother, who wanted the record to end on an upbeat note. Regardless of its overall melancholy, Liquid Pig is a joy for those who aren't afraid of what's hidden underneath.