Like many communities outside the main urban centres, the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, has long had a thriving and self-seeding music scene. Artists as diverse as hip hoppers Hermitude and DIY roots wizard Claude Hay have sprung from the Mountains musical melting pot.

Linda Mizzi is a Blue Mountains singer-songwriter who, over a relatively short time, has come to the attention of festival audiences local and interstate. Her debut album, Real People, will doubtless expand her audience with its honesty, charm and simple gifts.

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Pic by Elizabeth Lawson

These twelve songs are written and sung very much from the heart. They are songs of everyman’s (and everywoman’s) blues – songs of longing, pain, joy and going down that road again.

Beautifully captured by Alexander Keller, who also plays bass (and sundry incidental instruments), the songs are allowed to breathe in their own atmosphere, rollout under their own sky. The musicians Mizzi has assembled have perfectly realised the nuances of her melodies and stories with intuition and balance, never cluttering or cloying the performances.

Keller and Mizzi have gone for a widescreen Americana palette here – desert moods and lonesome highways, the guitar of Stefano Cosentino painting the rangy vistas with reverb, tremelo and just plain good taste, and drummers Lindsay Tebbutt and Ian Morrison kicking things along with just the right amount of boot-heel.14761_linda

Players are added where needed – harp player Simon Crosbie breathes blues into ‘Crooked Man’ and ‘Mademoiselle”s rock’n’roll; Vince Pace‘s ethereal electric piano shimmers on ‘Qiqihar’ and his acoustic playing grounds the album closer ‘The Kind’ in gospel solemnity.

But it is Mizzi’s songs and her voice that make Real People such a pleasure. Her vocal has the country of Patty Griffin and Alison Krauss in it, but when the emotion rises, a honeyed burr enters the edge of it, to tell some low down Lucinda Williams tale. The album’s only cover, a measured and delicate reading of The Choirboys‘ (drummer Tebbutt’s old band) ‘Run to Paradise’ reminds of The Cowboy Junkies‘ hazy 1988 take on Lou Reed‘s ‘Sweet Jane’ – a ballad-like interpretation of a rocker, that turns the lyrics around to mean quite something else.

Real People is an impressive debut – especially considering Mizzi’s relative newcomer status. Doubtless it is that freshness that has her never second-guessing her listeners but speaking clear and pure from the heart.

Real People is real. And you don’t have to do much to be convinced, other than taking a listen. I think you should.

 

Linda Mizzi’s website is https://www.lindamizzi.com.au

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