Land of Talk


Bio

All 11 songs on Indistinct Conversations were written by Elizabeth Powell, who also produced and arranged the tracks together with bandmates Mark “Bucky” Wheaton (drums/keys) and Christopher McCarron (bass). The album is a dreamier, more acoustic-driven work than prior Land of Talk releases; it was recorded in Wheaton’s home studio, and has the intimacy of a private document. The songs were created as a therapeutic space where Powell could retreat from the world.

Yet Indistinct Conversations is not an album of numbing out. By drawing back into their interior world while creating Indistinct Conversations, Powell was able to emerge with a stronger sense of self — and more willingness to confront the oppressive structures of the world. This process included embracing their identity as a non-binary femme who uses the pronouns she/they, and engaging directly with the trauma inflicted on them as a “woman-presenting human”.

On many songs throughout Indistinct Conversations, Powell found themself literally using their voice in a new way — including the guitar, which they call their “first voice”. While writing the album, they switched to playing acoustic guitar; an effort, ironically, to take up less space (“I was subletting a place with paper thin walls,” she says), which radically shifted the way their songs were structured. Powell credits the album’s sonic adventurousness to Wheaton, who “pulled me out of premature retirement.”

As Powell stepped into a more authentic sense of self, they increasingly felt comfortable saying more with less, cutting whole swaths of lyrics down to oblique, minimal statements and dropping to a more low-key, almost speak-singing style inspired by Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, or Bill Callahan. “I used to think that as a ‘female vocalist,’ as a ‘female singer,’ like…‘gotta sing high! You’ve really got to blow your load in the chorus and show people how high you can go,’” Powell explains. “Now it’s like, What if I get to the chorus and I don’t feel like singing? What if I just kind of want to get something across in very few words? This record is me being a lot more true to what I want to say and how I would want to hear it, not really trying to cater to any preconceived notions of what a woman is ‘supposed’ to sound like.”

That radical self-acceptance, the ability to speak in one’s own voice, is the hallmark of Indistinct Conversations. By digging deep, Powell has found a certainty we all deserve: the realization that their own voice is enough.


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Joseph Yarmush

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