Last autumn I experienced one of those rare evenings where you forget where you are in the world. It was a cathartic experience that was brought about by a musical performance. The performer was Nashville based musician Liza Anne, and with her tender voice and guitar she kept the room still; all the attention was on her.

After the show me and Liza discussed music, traveling, and heartbreak - and with that our friendship began. As you get older you find it harder to feel strongly about people that you call friends, but I can honestly say that Liza is one of my closest friends and a fierce force in my life.

Returning to NYC to play a show at Rockwood Music Hall for Communion Records in support of her second album, TWO, I sat down with Liza to discuss the release of the album, and her new mindset.

Did you notice a difference in how you approached song writing when it came to making songs for your new album in contrast to your first album?

Definitely. I grew so much over that year in between them - it was apparent in even the way I thought about things. So, with my thought processes changing, the way I created also changed. I read something recently (Wendell Berry) that noted the words on paper are not the poetry, but the mindset of the poet when writing.

TWO turned into a catalogue of my new mindset, featuring anxieties, insecurities, relational chaos - into something tangible.

That makes so much sense to me after hearing your music. It's very autobiographical, even with the element of story-telling. So with that, it only makes sense that the process would change as you change as a person as well.

Yeah, I agree. I think it's incredible that as an artist, I have this tangible thing to reference when looking over my life. I can see how I grew, what I thought about, and different windows of relationships I experienced - exactly as they were. Art has this way of making things immortal. I love it.

You always hear about the difficulties that musicians have crafting a second album. Now that you've done it what do you think: is that fact or fiction for you?

Fiction; completely fiction. I think the difficulty comes with wanting to measure up to what you did before or the fear that people will not like it as much as the first. I don't care about those things. Each album is going to be exactly what it's going to be and people will like it or I could give two shits. I am creating because I can't help but do so, not to impress an audience whose opinion is bitter and pretentious.

It has to be said: this album is a short one. But it does feel very complete, even the way the last song ends. How does it feel having an album that isn't adhered to the standard runtime/10-13 track list?

I wanted it to be more like a second movement, a progression towards another project. Although, it is a mostly complete thought. I do have other songs written in that time that will have their release in some form at some point. But, for TWO, I feel it is complete in its 7 moments.

It was hard picking the songs though, I am writing all the time and could have done it as a longer track list. But, I wanted to be intentional with each song.

That's the reaction I had when I saw the tracklisting and then heard the album, it felt very intentional. Something I love about you, that many people might not recognize is that you're your harshest critic. You hold yourself up to a high-standard with your music. What struck me with Two is that it sounds a lot more relaxed and assured. Do you feel more relaxed now that you've been doing this for a while?

I definitely do. I feel like the positive reaction from the Colder Months moving into the positive reaction towards the first two tracks we released from TWO really helped me as an artist. Not that I was going to stop creating if people were not keen on it, but it did make it easier to feel comfortable and welcome and like I was doing something I was good at.

I am definitely my harshest critic, though. So, sometimes I just have to relax and realize I am doing what I'm made to do and the best I can be, at the moment.

With that said, was there a primary emotion you wanted to convey when it came to making the new album?

I guess, I want people to feel every emotion a piece of art could create.

So in a way, have people put themselves into your albums as much as you have?

I hope that's the kind of listeners that are gravitating towards my work, yes.

I'd imagine that would be the case. Your music is... what's very significant about it is that your songs force a listener to listen. For me personally, I tend to listen to the sonic output before my brain gravitates towards the lyrics. But with your music I find myself listening to the lyrics just as much as the melodies and instruments. They're very much in harmony with one another.

That's funny, my dad also listens to music that way - sonically before lyrically. And, whenever he listens to my lyrics he always asks if I'll write a happier song.

Have these new songs off of Two at all changed the way you approach playing live or does it feel quite the same as before?

It can go two ways. Either just me and my guitar - stripping everything back to the bare bits of what the song came from or me and my band, which is how I was TWO to be received live.

There's something about playing with a band that creates an atmosphere, for me, that playing alone lacks. But, I do love playing simply as well.

When I saw the title of the album I immediately thought 'ok Two it is then?' But then as I listened to it I began to understand just how auto-biographical the album is. The title now to me feels like a chapter of your life. Do you find that to be fitting in a way?

That is interesting, I didn't necessarily think of it in that way. For me, it's called TWO because it was between me and one other person. Two people. And, of course, it's my second release and like you said a second chapter.

Speaking of that other person, I know that the song 'Oceans' was particularly difficult for you to write. How does it feel now to have it out there in the world? That people can hear such an honest song and feel what you're singing?

'Oceans' was extremely hard to write. I started writing it at a writing session actually with my friend Josh Silverberg. It's a song that's extremely personal to me, I finished it on the road last fall. I didn't tell many people about it, I hardly ever imagined singing it at shows (much less releasing it).

But releasing it felt incredibly therapeutic - hopefully it speaks to others who are in the place I was sitting when it fell out. What a terrifying place to sit, but I am extremely proud of the end result.

What's been the most surprising response you've experienced when it comes to these new songs for Two?

Oh my gosh, everything has been pleasantly surprising. But, last night Kacey Musgraves tweeted and instagramed about it, and that was one of the most honouring things that's ever happened. It's crazy to think TWO is being stumbled into now.

Do you think the album will change you by this time next year? That performing and living with the songs off TWO will continue to evolve who you are as a person?

Of course. I think I'll grow from it all and I am so excited for the looking back - getting to note all of things that happened because of TWO being out in the world. It's so exciting. This year is going to be special.


You can listen to Liza Anne's new album, TWO, below.

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