Originally from the Northeast coast of Australia and now calling Texas her home, singer-songwriter Lisa Richards uncorks a bottle of confidence and darkness on Beating of the Sun. Her fifth album, this is a record of “walking with ghosts” and turning to the shadows for the questions and the answers.
Richards grew up swiftly after her mother was left with a severe brain injury following a horrific accident. “The dynamics in the family totally changed and I lost my status as the youngest child. I had to grow up very quickly,” she says. With growing up came changes, but music was always the foundation in Richards’ life irrespective of the turns reality took. By the age of 20, she was immersing herself in classical voice studies and fronting a punk-rock band. She moved to New York City, eventually transplanted to Austin and made a new home in the diverse locality.
Beating of the Sun exposes listeners to the totality of Richards’ experiences with fully realized songs and elegant writing.
Vocally, she is often a paradox. While the “girlish” keystones harvest vulnerability, deposits of strength and sass fill in the cracks. She is particularly gifted with nearly immaculate phrasing, a quality she puts to work while she stretches out notes and repeats words rhythmically. “First Sin,” the fourth song, is where things really take off. Featuring phenomenal instrumentation and poignant lyrics, the piece is a platform for Richards’ passionate core. Listen to how she stretches out the word “like” on the chorus, for instance, or to how her voice’s consistency cloaks the lyrics.
The title track reaches in to validate Richards’ range and patience. The latter is brought home with slighter moments, like the slender hesitancy at the jump of the second verse or the way she stretches out the “cloudless sky.”
Another favorite is “Trickery,” a Duffy-comes-to-Texas number that climaxes the neo-soul shades of Richards’ voice with the country-baked sponsorship of the instrumentalists. The chorus is contagious.
“Old Crow” is yet another highlight, with Richards’ surly Dylan-esque delivery tangling dreamily with the bass-led grooves. “You can stand there all night, but I’m not leaving until I sing every song,” she offers.
Lisa Richards is an artist in full command of her voice and carriage, a performer working in service of the tune to communicate deeper truth. Beating of the Sun is a groovy, wistful, sensitive, smart record and Richards is an extraordinary talent.