As she proves on her first full-length album, Eliza Rickman can apply her rich, classically trained voice and her vaudeville-style piano to just about any musical form—from pretty lullabies and neo-Americana to confessional, quasi-goth exercises and Weill-Brecht cabaret tunes.
Young, talented and beautiful, this singer-songwriter and pianist from the San Francisco Bay area could rival the likes of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Regina Spektor—and she may have more artistic range than any of them.
Three of the songs here appeared on her 2009 EP Gild the Lily. They include this album's opening track, "Black Rose," which finds Rickman singing in a bluesy/operatic soprano over female harmonies, a toy piano and a chain-gang stomp.
On some songs, Rickman performs nearly unaccompanied at the keyboard; elsewhere, she is joined by producer Mark Greenberg, who plays reed organ and wine glasses on the haunting, gorgeous "Coming Up Roses," which is the sort of deceptively luminous tune that could be in a David Lynch movie.
Rickman also wrestles with the specters of the sacred and profane. A woozy string section backs her up on such tunes as "Devil's Flesh and Bones" and "Through an Aquarium." Plucked strings bring a playful, light touch to "Pretty Little Head," but the sweet lyrics seem to hide a secret. Rickman augments her exploration of darkness and salvation with a closing cover of Nick Cave's "Into My Arms."