Lizzie No
Photo: Cole Nielsen / Missing Piece Group

Lizzie No Says Yes on ‘Halfsies’

Lizzie No knows all things must pass. Halfsies is a beautiful Americana/folk record with the lovely theme of freedom implicit in the lyrics.

Lizzie No
Thirty Tigers
19 January 2023

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Lizzie No has said that the artist’s role is to expand their audiences’ awareness by exploring the musician’s private consciousness. The songs on her most recent release, Halfsies, do just that. The 11 tracks offer creative personal investigations into Lizzie No’s world. There are allusions to past lovers, the history of crimes committed and uncommitted, the search for community, and other existential matters. Despite her last name, she says “Yes”. The musician remains optimistic without ignoring life’s obstacles. We may always run without knowing where we are headed, but we are presumably moving forward. Like a drunkard finding their way home, one may not be able to predict the route but is confident about reaching the goal.

As the title song suggests, part of Lizzie No’s positivity comes from involving others—doing “Halfsies”, as the children’s game of that name suggests. No sings about friends, including those she never had, asteroids in space, Paul Simon, a snake in the grass, and other such signs and omens over a rapidly brushed percussive beat as she contemplates death and excuses. She plays lead acoustic guitar and is joined by clarinet and background vocals on the title tune by Allison Russell and others on mellotron, celeste cello, violin, viola, pedal steel, and bass. The mix of popular and classical instruments lends a quiet sincerity to the effort. The music suggests forward progress.

Two songs later, Lizzie No puts her tools down and teams up with a more electric combo to rock out on “Lagunita”. The guitar wails and the drummer pounds as No sings about “getting soft in her old age”. Her sarcasm is evident as she sings about her search for love over a noisy accompaniment. Lizzie No takes the opposite tack on the following lovely folk-like acoustic cut. “The Heartbreak Store” presents No’s most gentle side. Her soothing song invites one to find solace in a voice.

Almost all of the material on Halfsies is mellow, even the war-like named “Sword and Shield”. She leads with her emotions and analyzes her past behaviors as if performing autopsies. In this song and others, Lizzie No finds the good and bad in herself. “I’ve been a villain / I’ve been your muse / I was born unlucky / I was born to lose,” she croons in a knowing voice. When two people get together, they take a risk. That’s the going halfsies part of love.

Halfsies ends with the most socially concerned cut, “Babylon”. Lizzie No is an activist as an artist and sees the two pursuits linked at the root. She doesn’t propagandize. She offers analogies and metaphors to suggest life’s lessons. The personal is the political. That’s the other part of what “Halfsies” can mean. Everyday actions and experiences are part of the whole. She lyrically connects the isolation one feels in today’s world with the Biblical exile of the ancient past. The song and album end hopefully with the birth of a baby. Lizzie No may not want to predict what may lie ahead, but she knows all things must pass.

Halfsies is a beautiful record with the lovely theme of freedom implicit in the lyrics. Lizzie No remains positive even when things do not go as one planned or hoped. She knows that half is better than none and offers her music as her contribution to a better future for us all.

RATING 8 / 10