Life in Australia, Austin Texas and New York City have all shaped the sounds and songs of Lisa Richards. With sharp observations, subtle humor and a ferociously sweet voice, she explores the complexities of life through a mongrel mix of folk, blues, roots and jazz……
This North Queensland native recently returning home to Australian shores after recording 5 albums, living and touring for 22 years while based in New York City and Austin Texas.
She describes her childhood in Far North Queensland as being ‘wild and unsupervised’. I was, like many young people, a victim of sexual abuse at an early age and developed depression and a love of alcohol and drugs that began when I was 6 or so. My mother had some ‘substance abuse issues’ and when I was 7 she had a car accident and a severe brain stem injury from which she never recovered. She needed fulltime care from then until her death and growing up I shared in this care from the time I was 7 until I left Townsville at 20. My brother was 2 years older and we were a tight team getting her on and off the toilet and up and down the 17 stairs in the house, preparing meals.
“There’s no doubt that my childhood has informed everything I’ve done creatively and I’ve spent a lot of years getting my head on straight and learning how to live in the world.”
With a penchant for the underdog and the outsider, she writes and performs songs on guitar in the tradition of solo singers and street performers through the ages. Her guitar playing is sparse, percussive and rhythmic and her songs tell vivid stories of longing, loss, love and hope using a rich palette of musical elements.
Lisa’s songs have appeared on CD’s alongside Adele, Nina Simone and Corinne Bailey Rae as well as being heard in film and television.
Reviewers of her work frequently comment on the unusual qualities of her voice while drawing comparisons to such diverse artists as Billie Holliday, Bjork, Cassandra Wilson, Patty Griffin and Suzanne Vega. Her 4th CD “Mad Mad Love” was downloaded 80,000 times.
Performances across the U.S. at The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the Rocky Mountain Folks festival, Merlefest, Kerrville Folk Festival, and The Kerrville Wine and Music Festival, SXSW and CMJ among others, established her stateside while tours to The UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Australia expanded her international audience.
Lisa’s voice is distinguished by its singularity. Articulated with strength and precision, it can be girlish, tender and innocent as each word is delivered with resonant clarity. Other times it rings with hard-won experience and dark foreshadowing.
Her recent CD is her 6th independently released album, her first Australian made release, and it’s called “A Light from the Other Side”. This CD was recorded and produced in South Gippsland by Greg J Walker from Machine Translations. Greg has produced CD’s for Paul Kelly, Jess Ribiero, C.W. Stoneking and composes for film and Television.
The songs on this new CD are colored by Richards’ sudden separation and divorce after 14 years of marriage, life and music in Austin Texas. (The tsunami of change as she puts it)…her journey, losing everything, living out of a suitcase, falling in love again, surprisingly, and resettling in Canberra Australia.
**** (4 stars) SOME voices pierce your heart….. a tour de force of unflinching and honest writing with arresting arrangements based on folk, blues and European chanson styles… it makes for a strikingly original and beautiful album. David Costello Brisbane Courier Mail
Songs of longing, loss, love and hope. In the tradition of classic songwriters, singers and street performers through the ages …from Fado to Jazz to Bluegrass to Blues. An exquisite mash up of Edith Piaf, Billie Holliday, Bjork and Patty Griffin. She’s toured solo in the USA, Europe and Australia and been praised by music industry tastemakers.