Thalia Zadek’s voice is one of brittle decay. And when taking on politics and the Bush administration, the songwriter – whose credits include stints with Uzi, Live Skull and Come – resonates with a churning, blue-collar intensity.
Liars and Prayerslargely addresses what Zadek feels is wrong with America today, most notably those who tell lies and those who pray. The urgency of her message is heightened by the sinewy viola accompaniment of David Curry, who, with drummer Daniel Coughlin, bassist Winston Braman and pianist Mel Lederman, round out Zadek’s band.
The tense “Next Exit” addresses the lies used to promote fear and justify the civil rights infringement, military torture, and other hot-button issues that increasingly populate the headlines. But with each honest take on larger political issue, Zadek offers reflections from her life, peppered with regret and hope, propelling cuts like “Green and Blue,” which beams optimism from a trusting slide solo.
Zadek’s voice isn’t notable for beauty, but rather for truth and abbreviated passion. What’s better is the jigsaw fit of her voice in the opulent orchestration, a dark spec on an otherwise glowing configuration. Liars and Prayers misses the mark in the spiraling drone that emerges throughout, but its strength is in its honesty when addressing an administration many Americans feel hasn’t ever hit the mark.
Liars and Prayers is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.