Lisa Germano | Lullaby for Liquid Pig | Review

Chatanooga Pulse | Ernie Paik

one of her most cohesive efforts

The "liquid pig" in the title of Lisa Germano's sixth album from 2003 is a not-so-flattering, self-imposed pet name, referring to her questionable drinking habits, and once again, Germano dives headfirst into uneasy, intensely personal moments, bringing up a difficult question. Would Germano be who she is if she didn't drink? She's stated in a Salon interview that she owes her voice‹sultry, breathy, yet full‹to cigarettes and wine, and the topic of dependencies certainly dominates her songwriting on this album. But her music also provides a confessional, possibly therapeutic release. It's all very confusing, leaving the listener to wonder if she's made peace or if one should be worried about her.

Lullaby for Liquid Pig is Germano's second most troubling album (behind Geek the Girl) and one of her most cohesive efforts, with warm and compelling arrangements, using carefully placed layers of piano, violin, guitar, static and background noise accompanying her voice. The woozy "Liquid Pig" is a spacey, trippy number that stumbles along with some squealing guitar interjections and fuzzed-out vocals, with sounds wobbling between the left and right channels, making a convincing aural facsimile of a wine buzz. The three-chord country-tinged pop of "It's Party Time" is easy on the ears, with slide guitar flourishes and a gentle ramble, but even on that track, a noise in the background cycles in and out, providing a disquieting element. 

The album hardly had a fair shake four years ago, quickly going out of print after its label's demise, but now under the care of Young God Records, it's lovingly reissued with a superb bonus disc with close to an hour of home recordings and live material. One of the demos is one of Germano's finest compositions, "It's a Rainbow" (a 1997 studio version was recorded in collaboration with Giant Sand and Calexico members under the name OP8 and is also worth tracking down) It's a perfect companion to Lullaby for Liquid Pig, with the lines "Alcoholic, alcoholic / It's a word my friends call it," delivered with a sing-songy melody and the heartbreaking refrain of, "Blame me, blame me, there's always me to blame."

The live material reveals Germano's solo performances as inviting and personal, with Germano asking audience members to meow instead of clap and taking the time to explain certain songs. In one anecdote, she describes how, in an odd way, her cats taught her to appreciate her own life by bringing her dead birds. Struggling with record label woes and disappointing sales, Germano might have contemplated an alternate career path where she found mainstream success as a sort of Sheryl Crow-type act, creating unchallenging, escapist pop; but that's not her, and her music isn't a way to escape. On the final track of the absorbing and sometimes difficult, sometimes gorgeous Lullaby for Liquid Pig, Germano sings with acceptance, "This is who you are / You don't have to run away."