a musical oxymoron: sincerely, e
With their carefully crafted lyrics and deep melodies, the Brooklyn-born group Elizabeth & the Catapult has created a comforting oxymoron of a pandemic-born album with sincerely, e, a collection of memories encapsulating all the feelings of the past year. The album evokes nostalgia, the hunger for some other past life and more, all wrapped into one multi-dimensional singer-songwriter package.
Released on March 5th, this is the group’s fifth studio album. Frontwoman Elizabeth Ziman started playing piano at the age of six. In the midst of quarantine, Ziman made this album almost entirely by herself in her living room with long-distance additions by drummer and bassist Adam Minkoff and other friends.
Creative and alive, the 12 songs of sincerely, e are like a musical breeze, each note entangling you in a world of lilac paper walls, hot tea and sunflower children. People can feel the passion Ziman emitted in every single lyric, each song a peek into the memory. Frontwoman Elizabeth Ziman (musical master with a voice like honey) says the album was “born out of a need during the pandemic shut down to cope with the breakdown of communication.”
The opener to the album, “birds and the bees,” is built on a feeling of solace and reflection at its core. It’s in this song people first get the feeling of that oxymoron Ziman tries to get across. Ziman sings, “Read the news in California/ Hope my family’s okay/ Looks like those beaches are as full as ever/ Just another perfect summer day.” The lyrics are surrounded by swift changes in tone across the piano, with a quick tempo and dynamic shifts. “Reminds me of a song I’d written but forgotten” is another lyric in the track and the exact feeling one could get listening to this song.
“pop the placebo” is a song of tarot cards, rainbows and realizations. The light strumming, strings and overall good instrumentation create something within the soul: a straw hat on, picking apples in California with the sun half up, the breeze tangling itself in everything. A multi-layered song of perseverance climbing steadily to its peak, the song navigates the battle within the mind of medicine through different stories. Although it’s tackling a worldly topic, it feels divine and holy.
“together, alone” is all about feeling uninspired. For some pandemic weary listeners, this one may be all too relatable. It’s a song full of feeling about not feeling, the moment when songs lose their meaning. It’s a poem set to light piano, with musical swells like ocean water over the shore.
“sweet chariot” is all halting your ambitions to the truth at hand. “Here’s the test/ To have patience/ when your ambitions/ Must surrender to the truth at hand” It’s a song with a double meaning: being patient in the face of change, but also about overcoming insecurity. The gentle picking of the guitar and delicate lines of piano accompanied by some ethereal humming feel like thoughts of the brain, quiet behind the loud lies the mind constructs.
“this rose comes to life” is a gem spinning webs of lilacs and perfumes and soft linen. It’s about new love. The almond-shaped eyes. Painting. Enjoying the little things in life. The drums and piano come together to create something beautiful, simple, and new.
Quiet but loud in feeling, “apocalypse in A major” feels like the music you listen to on the train away from your hometown. Light and ethereal, the layered vocals, choir-like and perfectly balanced, make a song that feels full of power and mystery, the kind that bleeds raw musical notes. It’s the song heard in moments when looking at people up close. The individual features: the glint in the eye, the twitch in their smile, the way they laugh. With moments of silence scattered throughout for the listener to reflect, the euphoria of the silence and one’s own memories of life come rushing in to fill the space.
Ziman’s able to create a real sense of familiarity, connection and vulnerability in sincerely, e, one that’s mostly only found in aged jazz singers with a live audience. With the deep and hearty piano chords and her slip-and-slide voice, these songs feel spiritual.