Sounds that are gleaned from inspiration ultimately create a sound that inspires others. It’s a continuum that’s at the core of great music, music that exists for the ages and not merely within transitory circumstance. Indeed, Boston-based singer-songwriter Liz Frame knows this all too well. She was weened on the music of her parents’ generation, absorbing the influence of their heartland heroes — immortal and iconic artists like Jimmie Rogers, The Weavers, B.B. King and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. It became deeply rooted in her musical psyche, so much so that she began writing her own music at the tender age of nine, and after picking up her first guitar at fourteen, it found her performing in front of audiences while still in her early teens. Not surprisingly, her music of choice was honest, unbridled Americana, a sound that continues to represent the disparate styles that captured her imagination so early on.
Backed by her band, The Kickers — John Webb on lead guitars, Jake Davis on bass and Jarrett Osborn on drums — Frame continues to write and perform with seemingly nonstop energy and enthusiasm. Yet it was the death of her beloved mother in 2007
that turned her focus entirely to her craft. Sooner, her full length debut, appeared in 2011 and featured a stellar line-up consisting of some of New England’s finest sessions players, among them Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and Bobby Keyes. Frame’s follow-up, the Justine EP, was released three years later and confirmed the savvy and intellect so evident the first time around. Moreover, it affirmed the fact that Frame is a fine front woman, a singer who possesses not only a cool confidence, but also an ideal blend of soul, sophistication and sensuality. The edge and deliberation inherent in “A Good Day to Say Goodbye,” the strains of bluegrass echoed in the title track, the restraint and remorse woven into “I Don’t Wanna Let You Go,” and the emotional, evocative finale, “The Secrets I've Been Keeping” spotlight the band’s power and potential.
Fortunately, their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. These days, the band is out there promoting their brand new, critically acclaimed release, Sparrow in a Shoebox, which again features beautiful contributions by Duke Levine and a host of other respected area musicians, as they hit the stages of choice venues from New England to the mid Atlantic, attracting new fans along the way. Some critics have compared her singing to Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt, while others have noted similarities in her songwriting to the work of Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams. At the same time, Frame and her colleagues have developed synergy with like-minded contemporaries as well, among them, Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Ducky Carlisle, and guitarist Stan Martin, a former member of the popular honky-tonk combo John Lincoln Wright.
Tradition — especially as it applies to Americana realms — is something to cherish and admire. It takes both respect for one’s predecessors and the resolve to move those lessons forward to make a mark and create a lingering impact overall. Liz Frame and the Kickers have an ample supply of both — more reason to suspect their ongoing success is all but assured.
Writer/reviewer for American Songwriter, No Depression, New Times, Country Standard Time, Blurt, Relix, and M Music and Musicians