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Liz Vice And Moda Spira At The Bootleg Theater, Thursday November 1st 2018

Liz Vice


Of the two women performing at the Bootleg Theater on Thursday night, it was difficult to decide which one was headlining the show, technically it was Liz Vice, but  Latifah Alattas, aka Moda Spira, joined her on stage for back up vocals while Liz Vice did the same during Moda Spira’s set, and despite differences in their music, both women seemed to have the same message of love, hope, and healing.

Opener Moda Spira (a Latin phrase as a moniker which means ‘the continual act of breathing’) played songs off her recently released and sophomore album ‘Divorce’, with a very self-explanatory title, as she put it. The Nashville singer-songwriter got divorced about a year and a half ago and found comfort in the writing of these songs, which helped her to walk through the painful process. Sitting behind her keyboard, she started with a very personal version of Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’, so slowed down that it sounded trapped in a frozen state with altered voices echoing like a choir in a cathedral.

The song ‘Regret’ brought deep stabbing keys and a sort of sad-Thom-Yorke-on-piano vibe that I immediately picked up, and got even more real because of her melancholic high pitched howl. ‘Bang’ had a very interesting cinematic aura installing drama, while ‘Bed’ was an old-fashioned slow waltz of a stunning beauty, depicting to perfection the slow process of healing. She had a few show-stoppers like this one, and the crowd stayed very silent all set-long which was a real sign of reverence. Her songs were rich in emotions and as diverse as her exploration of feelings she went through during her healing journey, as the songs were evoking anger, peace, rage, sadness, shock… She was explaining her work at great length between the songs, and interestingly she mentioned a podcast she did about her new album, a sort of song explorer meets therapy session. Her set was a clever and subtle voyage through great nuances, even going through rage during ‘I Do’. ‘Art is a safe way to channel anger’  she said, but even though it was dealing with the most violent of human feelings, the tune was closer to an hymn than an angry song.

Similarly, Liz Vice recently released her sophomore album ‘Save Me’ and critics have compared her sound to the work of artists like Leon Bridges… she sure brought a lot of spirituality and gospel-like quality in her tunes, with a confident voice soaring with ease over the quiet orchestration. She was also abundantly talking between songs with a soft and reassuring tone, a true gem airwave-ready voice, that she was acrobatically modulating from the upbeat and light-hearted melody of ‘Fancy Feet’ to the fuller sound of ‘Brick by Brick’.

The message was unification and not division, and if her gospel-like songs were evoking God and Jesus more than a few times, she seemed to be someone with a spiritual message who was not pushing any belief on her public, someone with a Civil-Rights-spiritual-like song ‘Drift Away’, who was claiming to not be from the left nor the right,… ‘I hope my politics are not from this world’, she said like a surreal wish. If she was pushing something it was a genuine humanity, although she introduced a song as her own ‘make America great again’ song.

Her neo-soul songs were dominated by intricate jazzy piano arrangements, funky bass, and her sultry vocals, but whether she sang a repetitive mantra, ‘Onward, keep on, soldier’ during ‘Save Me’ (from myself) or let her vocals took a grave and dramatic turn during ‘Dance with Death’, she had a charismatic presence. Her warm vocals were shining during the slow-moving melodies and jazzy grooves, but it was her message of hope which was transcending the entire process, And since she is not an easy one to pigeonhole, she has also recently released a remix of her song “Where Can I Go” with rapper Propaganda…

This ex-film student turned singer-songwriter charmed the crowd despite a very serious moment when she explained she never thought she would live past 20 because of a kidney disease,… but even at this precise moment, the message was coming from someone who has never lost faith and hope, and like Latifah Alattas’ journey through healing, Liz Vice’s meditative music was a vehicle for her faith in humanity which seemed to tell us, ‘No matter what, it’s going to be okay.’

More photos here

Moda Spira

Liz Vice

Moda Spira

Liz Vice

Moda Spira

Liz Vice

Moda Spira

Liz Vice

Liz Vice

Moda Spira

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