Artist: Eliza & the Organix
Eliza & the Organix self-describe as a rock group with foundations in jazz and blues. I don't know about the “rock” part, though “Fanciful You” (at 1:30) touches on the same guitar tones as Van Halen's “Top Jimmy.”
But jazz and blues do permeate E&O's The Organix Experience. Whether it be the jazz-cool instrumentation of Erik Snow (drums, percussion) and Kristen Tivey (alto saxophone), or Eliza's electric guitar licks that span jazz (“I Just Wanna Dance”) and blues (“Fanciful You”), the music showcases a powerful vocal dripping with charisma – Eliza's chief instrument, attracting a serious suite of talented jazz musicians.
Although E&O invokes jazz, it would be unfair to compare Eliza with the Billie Holidays of the genre. But the voice of Eliza, strong and clear – especially on the verses of E&O's “The Autumn Has Arrived” – does withstand comparison to the best in female-fronted indie folk/rock acts: “Let Me Have This” brings to mind Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; and “Cold Comfort” recalls Fiona Apple.
Better still, just like Jewel, Eliza can go either thick or thin on vocals. That is, unlike other one-note singers (including the aforementioned notables), someone like Jewel freshens up the passion-power play, breaking it up with the occasional wispy vocal delivery. Eliza also brings to bear both singing styles; her reedy-thin mode operates in the hooks of “Lullaby for Fools” and “Autumn,” and is akin to that of nature folkie, Laura Veirs.
E&O's bio cops to quirkiness, and this might be the only subjective element the listener will have to weigh in on. Because the beginning of “The Bazaar” might be Ella, but the rest of it (starting at :37) is all Eliza – Eliza with a “z.” (Speaking of: Liza Minnelli could also sell this song segment – jazz hands and all.) But the stop-and-start song construction, along with its monkey-centric lyrics, recalls the lovely “freak folk” harpist, Joanna Newsom-Samberg. Lyrically speaking, “Fanciful You” includes such gems as “you bring your baby to term” and “you eat your Snickers bar with a knife and fork,” which just might be a Seinfeld reference, and could by itself place E&O into Camp Quirky.
Whether Eliza continues to find her fun lyrically, or instead opts to marshal that idiosyncrasy through complex song construction a la “freak folk” standout Tune-Yards (just discovered “freak folk” is a genre that also boasts indie stalwarts Animal Collective and Sufjan Stevens), E&O will remain a band to watch. Because night or day, regardless of weather, Eliza's vocal will be the shining beacon for any direction E&O chooses to take.
*** The author of this review, Willie Ward, plays the dhimaya for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8