Musician Lizzy Allen is now based in Seattle, but she spent most of her life in Colorado. As lead singer and multi-instrumentalist for indie-rock band Vitamins, Allen made a mark in the Denver scene as a talented vocalist. In 2010, a random encounter at a Tame Impala show between her bandmate and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips led to Vitamins opening for the Lips at Aspen’s Belly Up. After that, Allen was brought on board as a vocalist on one leg of the tour behind the Lips’ Flaming Side of the Moon album.
In 2012, Vitamins split up, and Allen began to focus on her solo project, Miss Miniver Rose, while looking into new places to take her music. Seattle suggested itself because of the city’s musical legacy and because a friend, songwriter Shenandoah Davis, had relocated there. Allen moved to the Emerald City and spent 2013 living in a house with other musicians and exploring other places.
During her travels, she also lived for several months in her aunt’s bed-and-breakfast in Victoria, British Columbia. Allen was alone the majority of the time that she was there, and that psychological space gave her room to ponder the future and refine songs for what would become her full-length solo album, 2016’s Crocodile Tears.
“I think I was in a place of uncertainty,” Allen says. “Leaving a place you’ve lived your whole life and not knowing what your next move is — the songs came out of that mindset. [When] I moved from Denver and I was traveling in the Pacific Northwest, I had to figure out who I was without my past band.”
During her sojourn in Canada, Allen had kept in contact with friends including sound and recording engineer Eric Loomis, who had moved to Nashville, where he had access to Thrill Building Music. Loomis offered Allen a chance to record her new songs in a professional studio. During her initial stay in Seattle, Allen had befriended Berklee-educated drummer and producer Jeremy Shanok, who took a shine to her demos. When it came time to record in Nashville, Shanok came along, and the two, with Loomis engineering, produced the songs that appear on Crocodile Tears.
Releasing the record independently under the name Lizzy Rose, Allen brought together the two main strands of her musical influences in the Pacific Northwest and Denver, including the striking cover art created by local artist Mario Zoots. “The album is really eclectic in terms of style,” says Allen. “When I was looking at [Zoots’s] work, I felt it could represent my music because of the collage aspect and the way he pieces together his art from several different mediums.”
Part of the eclectic quality of the album comes from Allen’s expansion of her vocal styles and range, a result of following her own ideas rather than fitting into the context of a band. “I think I’d been used to being more of an ethereal instrument in Vitamins,” says Allen. “Sometimes I wouldn’t know what I was saying; I’d make up lyrics on the spot. So for this album, in the songwriting approach, I decided I wanted to be up front — saying something that I thought I wanted to say rather than kind of hiding behind the music.”
In embarking as a solo artist, with the help of Shanok and guitarist and synth player Nate Munski, Allen found that some aspects of going it alone were made easier by the relationships she’d forged since she began touring a decade ago. “The challenge [now],” Allen says, “is in not giving up and still pursuing these places that have no idea who you are, and to keep telling yourself that it’s worthwhile sending e-mails even though you’re not getting responses.”
Although her direction is clear, the title and themes of this album are related to that aforementioned state of uncertainty, navigating the emotions and identities you show to the world. “I think [the title refers to] being in relationships where you feel like you’re faking it,” Allen says. “The uncertainty bred that, as well. I think everyone fakes it, whether they admit to it or not, with the roles we play.”
9 p.m. Tuesday, September 13, Lost Lake Lounge, 303-291-1007, $10-$12, 16-plus.
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