Land of Talk is an indie rock band from Toronto. The only real member of the band is Elizabeth Powell, who started the band in 2006. Other members have come and gone, but this band is all about Liz Powell. Her 2008 debut Some Are Lakes was produced by Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, and it was longlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize. After that record, she developed some polyps on her vocal chords, and she considered hanging up her skates. After meeting with and receiving advice from Jace Lasek out of Besnard Lakes, she changed her style a little and released her 2010 sophomore album Cloak and Cipher, which was produced by Lasek. That album was longlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. Powell was very near the top of the mountain, and she was going on some pretty impressive tours, although they were mostly as the support act for much bigger Canadian indie bands.
I loved the first two records so much, and for a while, I simply wouldn’t shut up about Land of Talk.
After Cloak and Cipher, Powell again considered hanging up her skates, but she pressed on and wrote some new stuff. Unfortunately, she lost everything in a laptop crash. Then she decided to take a bit of a break. Then her father fell ill, and she spent a lot of time helping him recover. Then she sort of lost her passion for making music.
Several years after the release of the sophomore album, Powell came out of hibernation to play some shows last year. Then she surprised fans with a third record —Life After Youth— which came out on Friday via Saddle Creek Records.
Like the previous record, this one was recorded and produced by Jace Lasek, who also plays some guitar on the record. On tonight’s song, Lasek’s wife and Besnard Lakes bandmate Olga Goreas plays bass. In addition, there’s some backing vocals by Sharon Van Etten. On a different song, Steve Shelley out of Sonic Youth plays drums.
I haven’t listened to the album in its entirety yet, but I really love this song, and I know I’m going to love the rest of the record.
“This Time” by Land of Talk
On the first record, Powell had some rasp to her voice, which was brought on by some improper singing techniques and compounded by smoking cigarettes. Since then, she stopped smoking and learned to sing properly without straining her vocal chords. The result is a much cleaner, prettier tone without giving up too much of her signature style. In case you’re scoring along at home, this is the same thing that Bob Mould went through years ago. After years of smoking and years of scream-singing as the frontman of Hüsker Dü and doing the same in Sugar, he had to change those things before pushing on with the second round of his solo career. And he’s still doing it well into his 50s. While I could go on for pages about Bob Mould, I won’t.
On this song, I really love the bright shimmering tones in Lasek’s second guitar. Sharon Van Etten’s vocals in the chorus are fantastic. There’s also something about Powell’s lead guitar that reminds me quite a bit of early Throwing Muses. In short: there’s a lot for me to like about this song, and I know I’ll also love the rest of the album.
In June, Land of Talk will go on a limited engagement tour of North America.
You can buy Life After Youth via Bandcamp here.