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Ian Shadwell - likeithateit.net

This album marks the coming of age of one of Sydney's finest independent talents and most beautiful voices. Liz Martin lures you in with the restrained tone of a female Cohen doing Rickie Lee Jones. These are songs that burn with a cool flame.

Nick Argyriou Rhythms Magazine

Debonair and smooth in its musical etching, Liz Martin’s ‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’ meanders (‘So Long’), sways (‘Be What May’), gets all Belle and Sebastian meets Fairport Convention (‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’), then strikes a sci-fi jazz interlude only three songs in. Oh, and then there’s Martin floating semi naked in a swimming pool on the front cover of the record. Erect right nipple exposed, pearl necklace buoyant like a jellyfish jewel with Martin’s sequined dress splashed across her torso… it’s a mesmerizing shot. Ambitious indeed, and it works as a piece of contentious art alongside a sonic catwalk with strings, shuffle drum and Dave Symes’ bass working over sultry terrain to soundtrack the saucy image.

Along with Hamish Stuart (drums), Stu Hunter (keys), Veren Grigorov (violin/viola), Dirk Kruithof (guitar), Mr Percival (guest vocals on Bowie’s ‘Sound & Vision’) and a score of an ABC Radio National Album Of The Week, Martin has reached a new level on her third record. Melancholy amalgamates with angst, the swoon with the swank, amid the resonance of artists the likes of Antony Hegarty, Joan Wasser and Rickie Lee Jones whose sounds emanate right the way through ‘Dance A Little, Live A Little’. Narratives tap in and out and collapse in a heap with willful lyrics and a headstrong approach washing through Martin’s delivery. Jazz, pop, breathy and brilliant. From the Shirley Bassey inspired ‘Night Time’ to the epic orchestral score that is ‘Darling’, this record will move you in ways you really want to be moved.


Nick Argyriou – Rhythms Magazine

Chris Pecken - Altmedia April 2011

When you see the names Dave Symes and Hamish Stuart on an album that is as good as a stamp of approval – “Quality Product Contained Within”. That Symes produced the album, and that Liz Martin already had two highly promising albums to her name heightens the sense of expectation. Live a Little, Dance a Little doesn’t disappoint. Think Rickie Lee-Jones meets Leonard Cohen in Paris. Think jazz meets pop in a smokey 60's swinging bar. Think good thoughts. Forget those So Frenchy, So Chic compilations, take one listen to the title track here  and feel all the liberation of Europe in the 1960's. Liz Martin is an artist who works into her songs, less personal revelations than lovingly constructed offerings. And in Symes and company she has a band who have found the groove and feel for each carefully composed piece; and her choice of cover – David Bowie’s lesser known Sound and Vision – not only perfectly complements the albums original tunes but adds and external element of surprise and difference (with Mr Percival providing the duet voice). That the album was written in the aftermath of her fathers death and as she recovered from major surgery provides a context for us to understand how a real artist works.

Tim Ritchie, ABC Radio National

"Here's an artist who has not allowed herself to be pigeonholed. She could have gone electronic, she could have gone indie but instead, she has gathered up a whole new range of genres to call her own... On this album, singer Liz Martin shows her maturity not by saying I've found  

my niche, ...but by saying 'I can do it all'...evocative, alluring and strangely comforting. And played by wonderful musicians!" 

Miri Jassy - La Folla

The louche drawl of a superb horn section plays tag with Liz Martin’s delicate vocals on the new album Dance a Little, Live a Little. Jazz singer, indie chanteuse — Liz Martin isn’t to be categorised that easily. Undeniably nourished by jazz — but far from anything esoteric and improvised, Martin’s sound is a playful embrace of the savvier side of pop with a massage from the cool hands of dashing crooners. Combining her sultry growl and a tight rhythm section, she is what happens when a Brubeck-influenced, Blue Note aficionado inhabits a grrrl balladeer who survived the grungiest excesses of the 1990s. Consequently, Martin’s music is profoundly sexy.

In the case of Dance a Little, Live a Little, you must judge the album by its cover. In perhaps an offhand improvement on Janet Jackson’s infamous oops moment, Liz Martin’s submerged nude figure is utterly stylish. Clad in a dissolving white dress against a turquoise backdrop, this image of Aphrodite-like rebirth promises what the music delivers: fragile beauty emerging with a refreshed style.

Think Leonard Cohen but low on bombast, and Tom Waits but low on gravel. With this new album, Liz Martin’s songs are gentle but assured, and any lyrical melancholy is never shot through with self-loathing. It’s a relief that her tortured and torch-lit indie days are over; not that there wasn’t a hint of her curious mix of strength and delicacy in her earlier and noticeably darker material. When I heard Liz Martin in a mid-noughties performance at a local café turned low-lit troubadour club, teaming up with fellow indie songbird Inga Liljestrom, she was captivating. I harbour memories of breathtaking sadness and troubling darkness that are happily absent from Dance a Little, Live a Little.

The bouncy staccato of album opener “So Long” initiates the listener into the tone of personal liberation that infuses the album. Martin’s vocals are suggestive of a deceptively relaxed timbre — she lands somewhere under the note, then beside it, caressing the note and sliding from it into the next clipped lyric. The jaunty piano of “So Long” returns in the following track, “Be What May.” The song is compact, witty, rhythmically delicious and a stylish dialogue of horns and voice.

The joy of these arrangements erupts in the title track. “Dance a Little, Live a Little” skips, wriggles and grabs you by the hand. Here the sensual voice again takes hold: You’ll want to hear just a little bit more of this very “little” song — a modest song for one that is instantaneously exciting.

“Meanwhile” is a bemusing “entr’acte” evoking a late ’60s James Bond theme. For those Liz Martin fans attracted to the singer’s moody good looks as well as her music, the steamy sound of high heels (Liz’s own or perhaps an elusive paramour’s) is the star of this bite-sized noir soundtrack.

The thrills continue with a strange but cunningly wrought jazzy reworking of Bowie’s “Sound and Vision.” Liz Martin’s cover is a perfect translation.

“Olives and Wine” builds on the sensuality theme inspired by the spontaneous swim of the album packaging. This song signals the moment when the lights are dimmed and the band leader calls up a slow dance. Romantic but not sappy, it’s a wedding dance for the thinking woman.

“Wish” and “Long Bad Day” echo the earlier brass cahoots on “Be What May.” “Wish” is a perfect song of desire. It’s confessional but smart, with rhythms stunningly reminiscent of Tom Waits’ Alice album. Strings, double bass and snare paint a canvas of cool moodiness that undercuts the yearning of the song. There’s no room for gloom, as “Long Bad Day” attests. Suave piano and horns make an almost comedic meal of the minor keys, syncopating and finger-snapping their way through another perfect little song.

“Night Time” follows the gentle and piano-showcase of “Oh” as a memorable and definitive track. Infused with the charcoal hues from a brooding electric guitar, Liz Martin’s breathy lyrics are holding a candle for one that got away. Despite the yearning, the beautiful, dark melody suggests controlled passion.

Resolution rewards listeners in the final two tracks. “Darling” is a song that’s wrapped in the warmth of another Dave Symes string arrangement, with Stu Hunter’s understated piano a match for Liz Martin’s vocal subtlety. The farewell notes of this final-sounding song are conclusively charming, but for a sneaky closing track, “Early Morning Skies.” With a dainty, homespun sound which chirps sweetly along with Dan Waples’ clarinet, it’s another optimistic moment in an upbeat album.

Without surrendering her serious side, Liz Martin has delivered a sparkling album. Familiar sounds of traditional jazz quartets are enchanted with sweet strings and growling guitar. While obviously a collaborative musical effort, the personal drive to bring it all together and take creative risks belongs to Liz Martin. A local hero of Sydney’s inner-city bohemian set, Martin’s music is gradually gaining wider audiences in Australia, with airplay and coverage across national media. With her delectable melodies, and a voice that ditches full-throttle ego for laid-back swagger, Liz Martin will undoubtedly turn heads and win fans. After hearing Dance a Little, Live a Little I want to dance and live a whole lot more, sensing that more great music is surely not too far off in her brilliant career.