sincerely, e

Elizabeth & the Catapult

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sincerely, e Review

by Marcy Donelson

For the project's fifth release, Elizabeth & the Catapult's Elizabeth Ziman delivers a rare full-fledged pandemic album. Released in March of 2021 after about a year of sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 virus(es), the 12-song set wasn't merely inspired by themes of isolation, hope (and hopelessness), and things like virtual connectivity, it dives into them with both feet, classically trained piano hands, and a heavy dose of no-nonsense wit. Recorded in her living room with long-distance contributions from friends including Adam Minkoff (bass, drums, backing vocals), sincerely, e kicks off with the cautionary "birds and the bees." A song also concerned with ecological catastrophe, it opens the set with the words, "Read the news in California, hope my family's okay...." After a melancholy intro, it launches into a section of frenetic piano playing under one of Ziman's trademark lyrical vocal melodies before circling back again ("Tell your mother not to visit/There's no more use in going out"). It's one of several self-referential songs on an album that finds Ziman talking about herself in the third person, writing about songwriting, and, in this case, mentioning later track "together, alone." Arguably a centerpiece of the album, the sparse and theatrical "together, alone" explores a life lived largely through messaging and social media ("I am just phoning it in/Quite literally....I'm talking without speaking/Together, alone"). Despite the circumstances, however, her songs have a reliably timeless quality, and she touches upon doo wop ("sha-la-la"), melodically complex, Bacharach-like balladry ("this rose comes to life"), and almost Chopin-esque Romantic song ("apocalypse in A major"). Elsewhere, the unlove song "the muse" follows in the footsteps of "You're So Vain" with its intentionally -- cathartically -- unnamed antagonist. (That track features former Catapult bandmates Dan Molad and Pete Lalish.) Still, even the horny, clap-along jaunt "thirsty" is ultimately about isolation. "I once wrote a song to the sound of your heartbeat....Do you remember the feeling?"

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