“I’m not the fragile bird that used to show up on your doorstep,” Liza Anne snarls on the lurching track “Kid Gloves.” “’Cause I’ve grown up, and I found words / How I wanna think, how I wanna feel / What I wanna say, When I wanna leave.”
It’s a song about smashing the patriarchy, but perhaps it’s also all that needs to be said to capture the thesis of Anne’s latest album release, Fine But Dying. The singer/songwriter, born Liza Anne Odachowski, isn’t watering down her big, ugly emotions anymore. Instead, she’s confronting them head-on, becoming vulnerable in a way that can only be championed by garnering a little bit of violence.
Anne wrote the album from the ages of 21 to 23, years that seemed to encompass “one hundred lives and one million emotions,” refining her to emerge on the other side with more grit and clarity. “I was a baby at 21,” she said. “I didn’t know what parts of me were still sleeping and the writing of this record woke me up – I feel more powerful, sure and present in my body than I have ever felt. This album was a portal for me. A magic crystal ball into how life would feel when I claimed my space, reiterated my truth and didn’t let others decide what sort of space I should inhabit.”
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram of Personality, you might not be surprised to find out that Anne tests as a four. Of course, these tests don’t have the end-all say on our ever-shifting, malleable identities, but they do provide us with some insight into our motives and messes. Fours, specifically, are notorious for our incessant desire to be Known, Seen, and Understood. We live with these coexisting notions that we are unique and unmatched and powerful, yet are acutely conscious of our flaws and ways we fuck things up.
“I’m obsessed with tearing through my insides, watching the ways I ruin or create things,” Anne explained when I asked her about her intense sense of self-awareness. “Relationally though, that quality can be exhausting and a bit overbearing – at least, there are moments when I feel that others can be exhausted by my need to always get to the bottom of myself. That’s probably why I write, why I perform, why I make records.”
For us fours, loneliness tends to mask itself as a facade of poised self-assuredness. We loudly parade around the newfound power we’ve discovered in ourselves, shove it in everyone’s faces, yet at its core, it remains a pitiful overcompensation for our downright terror of being good enough for no one. The heartbreak and the hurrah become one, a dichotomy Liza Anne works through on Fine But Dying– multiple times throughout the album, she makes short but spear-like paradoxical quips: “Somebody come close, I just wanna be alone,” and “I think I wanna die, but I guess I know I’m fine.”
There is an eeriness about the way the symptoms of a spiral are often indiscernible from those of an upswing – you chop off your hair, pluck up stakes, and headto a new city, all while the art surges out of you at a rapid rate like never before. Liza Anne lays it outplainly on “Control,” a lamenting and almost escapist waltz: “Now I’m swallowed up / By a city that doesn’t give a fuck / To whether I am up on time / Or whether if I’m, well, alive / And I’m so good, getting too good at hiding / Too good at keeping to myself that I’m spiraling.”
The undecorated nature of Anne’s songwriting is precisely what makes it as cutting as it is. Her articulation is so on-the-nose and so guttural that it evokes an almost repulsive reaction from the listener. But taking the route of unhinged and humiliating honesty was necessary for Anne: “I had to heal myself,” she said. “I had to sit at the table with everything, spreading all of me across a private space and figure out what it actually felt like to be alive in my body and with my mind.”
And thank goodness she did – Fine But Dying’s tracklist is brimming with songs that I’ve sent to friends during one of the wonkiest retrogrades we’ve experienced yet, as they’ve mourned lost lovers, experienced upticks in panic and anxiety, entered into stubbornly raging battles, hurting the ones they care about most. Each time I do, I receive different variations of the same text message response: “why are u attacking me, lol.” But then these are the songs that we blare on an endless loop as we go on late night desperation drives, ugly-cry about our circumstances, and lay on the floor with too much wine sloshing around inside our stomachs, disgustingly exposed and holistically consoled all at once. It’s a collection of work that feels like a divine blessing.
After the purgative, frenzied process of creating and touring Fine But Dying, Liza Anne knows that deliberately finding a balance and pulling back from the noise is a vital, generous act of self-preservation. “This album represents, me, yes. But it is just a small window of me – I don’t want to fall into the illusion that I am this album and lose the movement and transitory gift of growth and human expansion,” she stated. “I want to let myself be alive apart from performance and touring and music. I want to remember what I like that isn’t a part of my career, which is hard because my career is my dream career. There isn’t a thing about it I would change or a thing about it that makes me feel like I’m not living my truth. I just want to remind myself who I am when I am not seen, because I like her and never want to forget about her.”