Liza Victoria’s songwriting has always been unfiltered, but there’s something especially intimate and raw about her fifth studio album as Lisa/Liza: Born out of her own personal experiences with chronic illness and trauma, ‘Breaking and Mending’ aches with a heavy human weight.
Stream: “Held Together” – Lisa/Liza
There is a quote told to survivors that they are not broken. This is true, absolutely, [but] in my experience, there is breaking, there is pain, and there is suffering, and that needs to be acknowledged.
Lisa Victoria’s songwriting has always been unfiltered, but there’s something especially intimate and raw about her fifth studio album as Lisa/Liza.
Born out of the artist’s own personal experiences with pain and trauma, Breaking and Mending aches with the often heavy weight of life itself. It’s a record of introspection and inner reckoning; a collection of brutally honest acoustic songs that capture the fragility of our own humanity. Dwelling at the crossroads of tenderness and turbulence, Breaking and Mending sheds light on a topic all too often kept in the darkness. Beautifully vulnerable and breathtakingly raw, Lisa/Liza’s latest is, without a doubt, her best work yet.
All this time,
I was building a garden,
I was waiting for rainfall.
So I rearranged the seasons,
In order and meaning.
All that I held then was,
the weight of a feeling.
So I recite the blue in the sky above you,
But the Here and the Now
Is the place I can love you.
Released April 28, 2023 via Chicago indie label Orindal Records, Lisa/Liza’s Breaking and Mending is visceral and exposed. The follow-up to 2020’s Shelter of a Song finds Portland, Maine singer/songwriter Liza Victoria following her last intimate reckoning with yet another intimate reckoning. “Victoria has long been a beacon of raw folk, distilling deep emotions and vulnerable states into compelling, stripped-back pieces of music,” Atwood Magazine wrote in our 2020 artist feature, praising her poetic reflections on isolation and illness. From debut EP King, ME up through 2016’s pristine album Deserts of Youth, Barn Coat and beyond, Lisa/Liza has consistently found beauty in the silences – those fleeting spaces in between guitar strums, when we’re taking a breath in rather than exhaling words.
Breaking and Mending is not the first time Lisa/Liza’s music has addressed her own trauma, but it is perhaps her most direct and vulnerable.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s similar music to Shelter of a Song,” she says of her new album. “Someone has said it was a bit like a sequel, and I like that. But there is less melancholy, more clarity. The songs are there in a way that I feel each one is its own world, an extension of feeling and an exercise and releasing something, not so much a continued song. I hope people will connect with these songs that way. I feel like it’s a bit tidier, and it’s really just me trying to be myself without a lot of care about what people might think, and I think that’s a freeing experience for me.”
Balanced between the poetic and the diary-like, Victoria unveils herself like she’s never done before on Breaking and Mending. She holds nothing back as she unpacks everything in eight uncompromising, carefully crafted songs.
They tell me “the body minds,”
said that, the mind was the body,
Well each time that I fell,
I felt twice, what else can I tell everybody?
Can you find me, all on your own?
Can you shake me from a world of my own?
Can you see me, how I want to be seen?
Can you take me where I want to go?
Where I want to go.
– “Felt Twice,” Lisa/Liza
“I wrote this record over about two years’ time,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “I was actively healing… I’m doing better, it’s not been easy. At the same time I had been working through my mental health. These songs arose through those challenges and through that healing. There are themes about me processing the weight of holding these things actively during a pandemic. There was a lot of isolation I held in those disorders, and in the pandemic concurrently.”
“The music I made, it’s care and appreciation to anyone who has gone through it. It’s also for me. And when I finally was able to really listen to this record and what I made, it felt like I was writing something to encourage my process, and to validate my experience, ultimately. That feels like success to hear that. And I think, it’s also just a way to share love in a sincere way to those who support me. And that’s really what this record means to me.”
For Victoria, this record was about recovering, and then not knowing when she would have to be strong again.
“Feeling alone and fighting that loneliness with every resource I had the energy to collect,” she says. “Music was a friend to me during this, and I know it will continue to be. The songs were often written in times when I felt well enough to write. Sometimes I was exhausted from these experiences and I wrote about what was on my mind. I was dealing with the heavy lifting of working through trauma at the same time. These songs were a result of those experiences. When I hear them, I think that maybe I put more of myself into these songs than I have into any other album. I am glad to hear that now. It feels very much like it captured my emotional landscape in the last two years.”
“The vision was mostly about allowing my voice to be what it was,” she continues. “It also was a record that I curated more than other records. Many of my albums have been made in almost one or two sittings, like a bit of a fever dream, or a flood of ideas. These were slow songs, songs that developed through careful thought and ideas I had about time, and my relationship to it as someone experiencing a specific type of pain. And what I wanted to share from that. What I might want people to know from my experience. It was more thought out and songs I made a choice to pick because they spoke to me as coming from a real inner voice.”
The title Breaking and Mending really does say it all.
“I think it sort of speaks for itself,” Victoria explains. “There is a quote told to survivors that they are not broken. This is true, absolutely; I don’t want to refute that or amend it. You are whole. Also in my experience, there is breaking, there is pain, and there is suffering, and that needs to be acknowledged. And that suffering, it is the same thing that redeems, in my experience. It is both. I think that’s sort of what it means to me. You are whole because you break, because you are fragile, because you are human.”
The weight of Victoria’s trauma is apparent from the moment album opener “Felt Twice” begins, and with her bare acoustic ringing out its warm vibrations into a dark, but welcoming room. “Can you find me all on your own?” she sings, her voice barely a whisper, but stronger than a shout. “Can you shake me from a world of my own? Can you see me how I want to be seen? Can you take me where I want to go?” Further highlights abound throughout Lisa/Liza’s album; from the softly stirring “Held Together” to the sun-dappled “Kiss the Flowers” and the heartfelt, golden-hued title track, Victoria channels her pain into raw, cathartic beauty.
“I think my favorite lyric is from ‘Fight for You,’ which is, ‘Sometimes I get the feeling like, some sort of time-machine reeling by, running off of water and sunlight, and love when I find you a fight, a fight.’ It’s an expression of pain and confusion, and one that I feel validates my experience of trying to be in the moment, but very much having to fight for it,” Victoria says. “It’s easy to tell someone to let go, to be present, but the thing is, someone with my condition has to experience such a journey to be able to do that. It takes so much energy and really what it takes is love and support, family, patience, and community. The latter can be hard to find, it doesn’t show up at your door one day, it’s all this collection of resources, that’s why we need to look out for each other and love each other. It takes a lot of energy to do that, and it’s beautiful to be capable of that kind of healing. I feel amazed to be capable of change, grateful would be an understatement. You can do it – you are able-never forget that. Keep fighting.”
“I think that one, and I also really liked writing a song about John Prine. I can’t play that song anymore, but it felt good to write an appreciation song to someone else. I have an art piece of John Prine hanging up in my kitchen. His music means a lot to me.”
It’s some sort of factory recall,
Clouds they make rain,
love, there is pain in us all,
I wish i knew how to fight it off,
I wish I knew how to fight it for you, too.
Sometimes, I get the feeling like,
Some kind of time machine reeling by,
Running off of water and sunlight
and love when I find you
We can never fully understand what life with chronic illness is like, but we can experience Liza Victoria’s barest emotions through the music on her latest album. Ultimately, Breaking and Mending is an album of deep self-reflection, unbridled reckoning, and healing.
She says she hopes listeners take away whatever they’d like to take away from it. “I think just maybe also seeing a little deeper into someone’s thought process who holds trauma, or chronic illness, and maybe sitting with that and thinking about it. But also I just hope it can be a little warmth to anyone who feels a little afraid sometimes.”
It may have been born out of dark inner spaces, but one can’t help listening to this music and feeling some kind of light.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Lisa/Liza’s Breaking and Mending with Atwood Magazine as Liza Victoria goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her fifth album!
Stream: ‘Breaking and Mending’ – Lisa/Liza
:: Inside Breaking and Mending ::
Listening to this song now, I think it’s about holding trauma, and wanting to still be accepted and cared for despite your pain. Felt twice is this idea that someone with trauma feels their pain once, and then again. A bit like if you got a bad scrape on the knee on a Monday, and then every Monday you feel the scrape over again, just when you are eating your Cheerios or walking your dog or something. haha
This song is about having difficulty letting go, and realizing it’s the only way to live a full life. It’s sort of a will and desire expressed to move forward. Perhaps with the caveat of not knowing how, but knowing you want to.
Fight for You
This song is about wanting to fight, for everyone you love , and a wish for greater capacity. It’s also about my relationship with time as someone processing trauma and living with C-PTSD.
Kiss the Flowers
This song is about friendship helping you grow. I think it also is about flowers. I started to garden for the first time in my life a few years ago. It helped me a lot with having more strength physically. I think there is some exercise of hopefulness there too.
This song is about remembering to tell people in your life you love them.
Breaking and Mending
This song is about Judee Sill’s beautiful song “The Kiss,” and what it meant to me. It’s also about believing in art and believing you can get better through very hard things. As I explained in the interview, it is also a song about things being both at once, holding contradictions and beginning to be able to be aware of that.
I don’t want to give too much away with this song, as it means a lot to me. But it’s about being afraid and how others help us, especially friends. Also John Prine was a beautiful and inspiring person.
This song was inspired by watching the sunset, and thinking about what the sunset might mean to me in a cosmic, or spiritual type way.
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© Alexa Clavette
:: Stream Lisa/Liza ::