ARTIST / BAND: Elizabeth & the Catapult
ALBUM: The Other Side of Zero
FILE UNDER: Folk / Singer Songwriter / Pop
LABEL: Verve Forecast
INFO: “I’d hope there’s humor to both of our albums, but they’re actually quite different from one another,” says Elizabeth Ziman, the singer/songwriter/keyboardist behind Elizabeth & the Catapult. “While Taller Children has the sarcastic lightness of a Woody Allen film, the new record’s more in the vein of Kubrick or Lynch. It’s a bit darker, a bit more tongue-in-cheek—another side to who we are.” The reason for this shift isn’t as simple as a sudden breakup or breakdown. The dissonant strains are lurking between the lines, from the clanging chords and galloping groove of “The Horse and the Missing Cart” to the hopeful but bitter contrasts of “Thank You For Nothing,” a heartbroken ballad that channels the Buddhist teachings of an old Leonard Cohen poem. As it turns out, Elizabeth read Cohen’s Book of Longing collection from cover to cover while working on the Lincoln Center song cycle—performed last spring for a commission from NPR’s John Schaefer—that gave The Other Side of Zero its title and a handful of tracks. As the pages sunk in, one particular theme stood out: Cohen’s struggle to meet Buddhist goals in a monastery, which Elizabeth felt paralleled her own coming-of-age struggles while living and growing up in New York City. “Once I finished the book,” she says, “I realized that reaching this zen state wasn’t a realistic goal. Not for Leonard, and certainly not for me.