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Lisa Mednick Powell: Press

New Music Arriving From Elite Female Singer/Songwriters Lisa Mednick Powell & Cheri Magill

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Lisa Mednick Powell returns with her first album of new material in 16 years. That should not be much of a surprise, since Lisa takes her time between albums, as she released her debut in 1994 and then her follow-up album 8 years later. Lisa needs to feel a connection to the music she is creating and her new album "Blue Book" is filled with heart and emotion.

The album is one of those rare releases that you need to experience all together in one solid moment as each song tells a different story in this "Blue Book." She begins with the acoustic folk tale of "Smoke Over Carolina" as her voice is so sweet and pure, especially on the country rock ballad "Pieces Of Your Soul." The music just floats on by with the gentle touch of "Checkpoint," before Lisa and her band plug in for the classic country swing of "Cold Coffee." She showcases her country pop side with the upbeat melody of "To The Wilderness," then experiments with her music on the out of place song, "Crow." She finishes her new album with the southern blues of "Highway Prayer." To find out more about Lisa Mednick Powell and her latest release "Blue Book," please visit lisamednickpowell.com.
CICADA SOUNDS
LISA MEDNICK POWELL/Blue Book: Only her third album in 25 years despite rubbing elbows with Tommy Malone, Victoria Williams, Greg Leisz and Ray Wylie Hubbard among others, this recidivist to the early days of Lucinda Williams reminds you of when emo was creeping into Americana but seemed natural to music that proclaimed hard times should keep away from it's door. Dark without being dour, this is folk music for people that like to think about what they heard. She has stayed true to her cause over the years.
LISA MEDNICK POWELL

BLUE BOOK

CICADA SOUNDS

SMOKE OVER CAROLINA–PIECES OF YOUR SOUL–CHECKPOINT–COLD COFFEE–I AM NOT GOLD–BLUE BOOK–TO THE WILDERNESS–GIVE THE GUNS TO THE GIRLS–CROW–HIGHWAY PRAYER

Lisa Mednick Powell’s recording career goes back to her debut solo release in 1994, “Artifacts Of Love.” It would be 2002 before she would release “Semaphore,” and now, sixteen years on, she graces us her latest, “Blue Book.” These ten cuts were recorded in both the California High Desert country and deep down in New Orleans. She and her husband and co-writer, Kip Powell, were joined by the likes of Tommy Malone, Victoria Williams, Alison Young, Danny Frankel and Greg Leisz to create a powerful set of love songs, songs of empowerment, and songs with a historical background, done in her beautiful, lilting style.

The set begins with “Smoke Over Carolina,” a song which becomes the final piece of a trilogy of Civil War songs that began in 1994 with “Harper’s Ferry,” and continued with “Chickamauga” from 2002. This song also has a cool counter-meaning, dealing with the civil wars between workers and bosses. Next up is a song to which we can all relate, at least to a certain degree. It’s all about letting go, and getting rid of individual baggage. If you “lose pieces of your heart, you might find Pieces Of Your Soul.” Lisa puts her accordion skills to work on the lovelorn “Cold Coffee,” and plays the keyboard parts on the set-closing “Highway Prayer,” which features Tommy Malone on guitar and the duet vocal.

Our favorite was simple. A song originally written in response to the Boko Haram kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls easily rings true throughout this country today, in the wake of the recent tragedies in Parkland, Florida and Las Vegas. Hey, Mr. President—how ’bout we “Give The Guns To The Girls” and see if that can make a change for the better?

Lisa Mednick Powell is a rare artist these days. She’s a woman who follows her own internal clock, as far as writing songs and putting together an album goes. For her, the songs have to convey emotion and tell the truth to the listener, and that task cannot be rushed. Please enjoy her latest collection of emotionally-charged music, written down in her “Blue Book!” Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
Rolling Stone (4/7/94, p.77) - "...artful songcraft that is steeped in the Americana of the Band and Lucinda Williams..."
Don McLeese - Rolling Stone
There are a couple boxes in my closet with tapes that contain some of those gems -- ones I haven't been able to part with even after all these years, because it's the only place a lot of those songs exist. Once in a blue moon, someone takes the initiative to dig out the masters and reissue one of those old tapes on CD, as with Two-Headed Dog, the Lisa Mednick/Alison Young duo project from late-'80s New Orleans.
Peter Blackstock - No Depression blog
Two-Headed Dog

Better Than One (Halt Music)

If you lived in New Orleans in the late Eighties, you might have heard of Two-Headed Dog. It was a side project for Lisa Mednick and Alison Young, the keyboard-player/singer-songwriter and lead singer respectively for one of NOLA's hottest and unfortunately never signed bands of the time, the Song Dogs. Taking their name from a Roky Erickson tune, Songdogs showcased Young's vocal chops and gave Mednick the opportunity to put her own voice behind her lyrics. Better Than One sounds remarkably clean considering it was compiled from an Eighties demo cassette. It offers a glimpse into the beginnings of Mednick's honest, literate approach to songwriting, featuring early versions of "Harper's Ferry," "With a Dollar in Your Hand," and "Open the Window," songs that subsequently appeared on the longtime local's solo albums. The fully fleshed "Face in the Crowd" stands out as it was cut with the Song Dogs; the combination of slide guitar, violin, and Mednick and Young's harmonies hunger for equal time. Ultimately, Better Than One is a curious artifact for those wanting to relive better Crescent City days.
Jim Caligiuri - Austin Chronicle 11/11/05
Though keyboardist Lisa Mednick initially established herself as a supporting musician (with a touring resumé that ranges from Alejandro Escovedo to Michelle Shocked to New Zealand's pop band the Chills), her second album under her own name showcases songcraft that ranks with the most ambitious currently emerging from Austin. From the siren song of the opening "Wrecker" through the sinuous groove of the harmonica-laced "Widow of This World" to the stark simplicity of "Dancing in My Cell," Mednick writes some of the prickliest, most emotionally unsettling material this side of Lucinda Williams. Her vocal lilt in harmony with Alison Young, occasional cowriter Kevin Carroll, or bassist Michael "Cornbread" Traylor belies the music's dark thematic undertow, through songs that evoke life's fragility and finitude. With support from the likes of multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz and cellist John Hagen (on loan from Lyle Lovett's band), Mednick surveys a musical landscape that extends from her Cajun-style accordion on "Sad Louisiana Waltz" to the U2-ish atmospherics of "She Loved You." Mednick mixes her vocals as just another element in the arrangement rather than pushing them to the fore--thus requiring (and rewarding) an even closer listen. --Don McLeese
Finally a second album from this gifted artist. Mednick made a splash with her now out of print first albumyears ago. Playing piano, organ and accordion she offers up an even dozen new songs. After a few listens you getthe feeling that this album is on to something. It just has that feel. Like Lucinda and Jann Browne before hershe's fashioned a classic album that will stand the test of time. She gets some first class help from Greg Leisz,Peter Holsapple, the late great "Champ" Hood, Alison Young and many more. The next place you see this one mentioned will be on some end of year best of lists.
Perhaps the first thing to catch one's attention on Lisa Mednick's second release is the curious title, Semaphore. The picture of the railroad crossing on the cover, however, provides a clue: a semaphore is "any apparatus for signaling." The elliptical lyrics of the title track identify a universal female figure as a signaler, mystically offering directions that spring from divine sources. "Widow of this World" likewise uses the image of a woman to explore the values of being married in both the literal and figurative sense to a man, a city, and a country. If all of this sounds a bit "heavy," fear not. While Mednick writes careful lyrics with strange words like "anchorite," she doesn't consider herself one of those navel-gazing singer/songwriters. Instead, songwriting is just another aspect of building a musical tapestry. Atmospheric guitars mingle with dreamy keyboards on "Falling off a Wheel" and "No More Rain," while bass and percussion offer a balanced underpinning. The mix also varies frequently, keeping these tunes from falling into a tired groove. Accordion adds pizzazz to the Cajun-drenched "Sad Louisiana Waltz," while the cello/piano combo gives "Dancing in My Cell" a classical air. While Mednick's stylized soprano reminds one more of a pop singer like Natalie Merchant than her Austin-based peers, it is just right for delivering sonically charged pieces like "Wrecker" and "Stranger." Musically and lyrically, Semaphore offers a rich mix of carefully layered Americana.
Semaphore (Texas Music Group) With Semaphore, her second solo recording, Austin's Lisa Mednick ups the ante for herself by inching closer to Lucinda Williams' turf without actually encroaching on it ("No More Rain," Chickamauga"). That's largely because she distances herself from the singer-songwriter category by emphasizing her musicianship. The local multi-instrumentalist has accrued enough history to satisfy the snottiest credential-sniffers (Earl King, Juliana Hatfield, Half Japanese, Charles Neville, Alejandro Escovedo, Tanya Donnelly, Radney Foster), distilling that experience into Semaphore's intelligent offering. Mednick's vocals aren't the most distinctive -- her range is limited -- but the voice suits the material, and the two are entwined inextricably. The dozen tunes carry a purposeful weight, sometimes melodically, sometimes lyrically. On "Widow of This World," she assumes a Patti Smith-like chant at the end, and on "Feed the Beast" she warns, "With one hand I held out a carrot, behind my back a butcher knife." That's where shying away from the singer-songwriter labels might get her in trouble; Mednick's a poet of the first order. "When I walk away in three-quarter time, it's a sad Louisiana waltz," she sings on the song of the same name, ethereal but never fey. She has a secret, and maybe that's the semaphore the title song refers to, Lisa Mednick's private code for the heart and mind.