Music

Sweet Lizzy Project Demonstrate Pop Prowess Via "Travel to the Moon" (premiere + interview)

Jedd Beaudoin
Photo: Courtesy of Conqueroo

Raul Malo-mentored rock outfit, Sweet Lizzy Project, share a track from their upcoming album that finds them longing ever-so-slightly for home. "I think I can feel my Cuban roots a little more on this record," says vocalist Lisset Diaz.

Formed in Cuba, Sweet Lizzy Project found an unexpected champion in fellow musician Raul Malo (The Mavericks). Malo, who was born in Cuba, was taken enough with the group that he invited them to his Nashville home, ultimately housing members in his home with his family. He also signed Sweet Lizzy Project to the Mavericks' imprint Mono Mundo.

That he should be taken with the Sweet Lizzy Project is unsurprising. The group move from traditional Cuban music to the sounds of Pink Floyd and even 1980s college rock, with uncommon ease. But there's a distinct originality about the music. One could say that the band eschew clichés, but one could also argue that perhaps Sweet Lizzy Project never knew the clichés to begin with.

"Travel to the Moon" is the latest track from the album, and it demonstrates the collective's knack for creating instantly memorable melodies and painting sonic pictures that leave an indelible mark upon the listener's mind.

Technicolor, the new release from Sweet Lizzy Project, arrives 21 February 2020 and may be pre-ordered now.

Vocalist Lisset Diaz spoke with PopMatters about Technicolor's origins and her deep appreciation for American life.

When did the material for this album start coming together?

Three years ago. We were in Cuba, and I thought we were all done. Then, Raul Malo and the Mavericks showed up. They brought us to Nashville and a lot changed. We had to get used to living in a different country. The plan was to continue working on the record, but it didn't happen fast. We changed some songs; we wrote new songs. We started in 2016, and we finished last year. I can't wait for it to be to out.

Were you aware of Raul before meeting him?

I had heard his name and a little bit of the music, but it wasn't until the PBS special Havana Time Machine and knowing that he was going to be the host that I really started to dig into his music. I fell in love with his song, "Here Comes the Rain", which we covered later on. That relationship has changed a lot.

You lived with he and his family.

Raul and Betty and the whole family were amazing. When we came here, we came as tourists. With that status, you can't work, you can't pay taxes. That status took a long time to change, and until then, we didn't have a place to go. They opened their doors, and three of us stayed there. It was very kind. They were committed to us and our music. I am very, very grateful.

The band also appears on "The Flower's in the Seed".

We were in the house and Raul said, "Hey, could you come up and listen to this old song that's been sitting on my computer for years." It was an old gospel song. He didn't think that we were going to like it because it was kind of different from the kind of music that we do. But I listened to the song and I loved it. His idea was that it would be great if we had that song on the record. We did our version and then Raul said, "We should do it together." Because of the lyrics and the message, it represents our friendship and our journey.

It was the first song we recorded at Blackbird Studios, which made it a real special experience.

There aren't studios like that in Cuba. That day felt like, "This is for real." The microphone was more expensive than anything I'd seen in my life.

You draw on a diverse body of influences.

We grew up listening to rock 'n' roll, a lot of American music even though we weren't allowed to listen to it for a long time. You could go to jail just for having a Beatles record at one time. I would say we are a rock 'n' roll band but not like an American rock 'n' roll band because we grew up in Cuba. Even when it's not traditional Cuban music, you can hear it. I think I can feel my Cuban roots a little more on this record.

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