Third album from Brooklyn, NY singer/songwriter/guitarist/harpist Lizzie No; first album
with a label partner
Let’s start with this: genre is a construct.
To categorize artists might make it easier to organize record stores and playlists but there’s
no one term that could define any artist, least of all one like Lizzie No.
You could say that Lizzie No makes 'Americana' music, in that her work pulls from the
rhythms and traditions of Blues, Folk, and Country — not unlike the artists to whom she’s
most often compared: Allison Russell, Rhiannon Giddens and Adia Victoria — but her
collaborations with Brian Dunne, Pom Pom Squad and Domino Kirkie display an undeniable
Indie influence that allows No to move frequently and seamlessly between overlapping
You could say that Lizzie No writes 'protest' songs, in that as a Queer, Black woman, her
entire existence is a living, breathing, singing protest against a genre and a country that, on
their best days, are reluctant to reckon with the very foundations upon which they were built.
The erasure of Black artists is central to the myth of country music — what it means, what it
stands for, where it comes from — and so simply by standing on stage and singing, whether
it be in theaters across the country with the Black Opry, or leading Queer Line Dancing
nights with the Lavender Country tour, Lizzie No is staging a kind of protest.
After a dizzying five-year span that saw the release of two stunning, eclectic albums (Hard
Won and Vanity, which drew praise from the likes of Billboard and Rolling Stone) — followed
by appearances at AmericanaFest, the Newport Folk Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and
SXSW, and tours with Iron and Wine, Son Little, and Adia Victoria — Lizzie No found herself
at the forefront of a new vanguard of genre-defying artists. Her new album, Halfsies, finds
No situated among her peers while still searching for freedom — freedom from the
constraints of categorization, sure, but more importantly, freedom from the depths of her
own personal despair and from an increasingly violent and nightmarish American cultural
and political landscape.
On Halfsies, No’s writing is beautifully intricate, the personal and the political folding into
each other as naturally as the patchwork of influences that inform the album’s twelve tracks.
From the desolation and loneliness of 'The Heartbreak Store,' to the roadworn rock of 'Annie
Oakley,' to the sprawling mid-apocalyptic yearning of 'Babylon,' No’s writing throughout the
record serves as a living conversation with her influences — not just musical but literary —
reflecting her reverence for a host of the great voices who came before her, from Lucinda
Williams to Toni Morrison, and her search for a connection between them.
No is joined throughout Halfsies by collaborators who reflect her own musical elasticity,
surrounding her guitar and harp playing with an atmosphere that underscores the album’s
musical and lyrical landscapes of chaos and ominous quiet. The Grammy-winning Attaca
Quartet give the title track a frenetic, inescapable tension, quelled only by No’s plaintive
vocals (she’s joined on the track by Grammy-winner Allison Russell, who also lends her
voice to 'Mourning Dove Waltz'). Brian Dunne sings alongside No on 'Lagunita,' their voices
weaving together above the jagged guitar lines and four-on-the-floor beat, building towards
a chorus that threatens to swallow you whole.
The collection of collaborators on Halfsies gives the album a sense of community; of voices
raised together in a call to arms. This sound echoes No’s work as co-host of the Basic Folk
podcast, where she has interviewed artists from Ben Harper to Valerie June about their
places within the lineage of those who came before them, as musicians, activists and
community members. That synthesis of personal and political courses through Halfsies, No’s
identity as a songwriter owing as much to her musical influences as it does to her activism
(an outspoken activist and civil rights advocate, No was recently named President of the
Abortion Care of Tennessee Board of Directors).
Toni Cade Bambara said, 'the role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible,' and with
Halfsies, Lizzie No aims to do just that.