Singer/songwriter Liz Graham has not released a full-length album since her self-titled debut in 1998, but the long wait is over since her sophomore LP, Damaged, is dropping today, September 29. This album showcases a visible shift in the talented musician's sound as well as even more vulnerable lyrics than her last effort.
The 12-song release is something the New York native is extremely proud of and rightfully so--it's been nearly two decades in the making.
(Photo : Courtesy Of Liz Graham)
Enstars recently spoke with Graham about Damaged, turning down a major label deal, her upcoming tour plans and more.
ENSTARS: Why has there been such a big gap between your debut album and this one? You were writing and recording the whole time, right?
Liz Graham: Yes, that’s true [I have been writing and recording all along]. Well, I worked really hard to get up to that first record and the hard work really started after that. I did tons of touring, but I was sort of stuck on the East Coast. I couldn’t go too far since my kids were young. I didn’t want them to be raised by other people…I even got offered a major label deal, but I turned it down because there was no way I could fulfill all of the contractual obligations especially with having to tour all over. Believe it or not I think that was a great decision.
Why did you name this album Damaged?
I know it sounds like such a bummer, but it's really not. It's a collection of songs and within each song there is hope and the song that the album is actually named after is really a song about taking back your life and looking at your mistakes and what you've done and moving forward. You can actually make something wonderful of your life from all the wreckage. I believe that most of us are damaged, maybe all of us are, but some people might not like to admit that, which is okay, but I think that most of us are damaged. My message is that we will all be okay.
How would you say the entire sound of this album differs from your first one?
I feel that as a songwriter I can use all different genres and it depends on how it's produced that it could be a country song, it could be a rock song, it could be alternative. I like rock. That is my background along with folk so folk/rock is what I'm known for. There's a little bit of country though in this album and blues and I really just mixed it up. The producer [Larry Alexander] that I was working with was game for all the ideas so it was really incredible working with him.
Out of all the songs on Damaged, which would you say was the most cathartic to write and record?
Oh boy! Maybe "Pulling Under" [since] it's a song about being in a relationship with someone who has depression. It's about the choices you have to make since you're pretty much on your own trying to figure out what you can do to help them. Really all you can do is support them and then you get to the point where you doubt. You're like "Do you love me? Should I let this go? Should I hold on?" That was a hard song to write.
If you were to pick one song from the album that were to play every single time you walked into a room which would you pick and why?
Oh my goodness! You have the best questions! I really like this! This is outside the box. Hmm, I have to make a choice. Do I want it to be kind of silly and ridiculous like life? Or should it be serious like life can be too? Let me think. I think maybe it would have to be "Charcoal on a Canvas" since it's a joyful one. It's serious, yet light. I like to laugh.
The concepts for your music videos "Charcoal on a Canvas" and "Damaged" that are presently out are really cool so how did they come about?
I worked with Shari Cartun and she's very outside the box and we talked about the songs a lot. She started the ideas, but I added to them. It was definitely collaborative, but she did all the heavy lifting.
Do you favor the music video for "Charcoal on a Canvas" more than the one for "Damaged" or vice versa?
No, I love both. I like "Charcoal on a Canvas" because it's fun with lots going on. It's cool and moves fast. But I like "Damaged" since during the chorus there are all of these people walking and over their heads are signs of what's wrong with them. That's actually been my fantasy. It would be so cool if all of us just had written on our foreheads what's wrong with us. Just anything that's telling of a person so you can see what they're all about. It would really be so helpful.
What are your touring plans in support of Damaged?
I'm just finishing up my summer festival tour. My last date is October 4 for a women's festival. The Peak 98.5 is hosting it in York, Pennsylvania, but I will be part of a large tour and that will be announced shortly.
What is one moment from your career so far that you regard most highly?
I think [it] would be in a pot of charity shows I've done. Raising money for cancer and so on. I love doing fundraisers since I like being able to contribute and give back. Each experience kind of makes you a little better as a performer, but giving back is so cathartic.
How excited are you for people to hear Damaged?
I am actually really, super excited. I'm actually much more excited than I was the first time with my debut album. The timing now just feels right. Everything's just lining up! I think people are really going to respond to it. I'm really happy to release this music and I hope it resonates with people. I would like to have people listening to it and enjoying it so I can release another album in the future. I'm already writing new songs.
For more on Liz Graham head over to her official website.