Material: Viewers of the Dennis Leary TV show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll will have heard Liza Colby’s voice before without necessarily knowing it. Colby provides the singing voice for Leary’s screen girlfriend Ava (played by Elaine Hendrix) and, while that show has received mixed reviews to say the least, no one can deny that Colby, through Ava, is belting out the songs. On stage, she’s a thrill. There are no songs that, the next day, have stuck around in the memory banks, but it’s all about the whole. This is blues-rock that sits somewhere between Tina Turner and Janis Joplin––husky, raw, sensual and authentic. She means every single word she sings, and that translates positively into the music even when the melodies aren’t sinking in.
Musicianship: Colby has a wonderful singing voice and she’s a tremendous performer, and so it’s easy to focus all of the attention on her, but behind and alongside her are three talented musicians, framing everything she does. Roth and Morton are a powerful rhythm section, and Morton chimes in with harmony vocals too. McCaffrey is actually a magnificent guitarist, the Slash to Colby’s Axl. His frills offer the perfect foil to her showmanship. It’s no surprise that Colby refers to her band on-stage as a “well-oiled machine.”
Performance: This is what it’s all about. Colby is the consummate performer. She has the crowd in the palm of her hand from the moment she sasses on stage wearing a black swimsuit and heels. Colby writhes and gyrates, humps and moans through the set like she’s literally having an intimate moment with the music. She’s also strong and in-control — she’s doing this her way, so it’s in no way uncomfortable. By the time she jumps off stage and gets in the faces of a few attendees, the overriding feeling is, “Of course she did that––this is her room.” Her strut, like aspects of her vocals, is Tina Turner-esque, but Colby isn’t copying anyone. She’s simply making people pay attention.
Summary: The Liza Colby Sound have all of the ingredients in place to warrant a run at some larger success. It’s already a phenomenal live band. Again though, the songs aren’t massively memorable, so the writing needs some extra attention. Maybe that will come with time.
The Players: Liza Colby, vocals; Tom McCaffrey, guitar; C.P. Roth, bass; Alec Morton, drums.
Photo by Brett Callwood