It’s been almost a decade since Liz Pappademas released music. The singer-songwriter and pianist has admittedly hit some speed bumps since 2010’s “Television City,” a clever concept album about a fictional 1970s TV game show. “I wrote a movie, basically,” she says, “and then didn’t release the movie — I just put out the soundtrack.”
After series of travails that included losing a job, the demise of a relationship and a family illness, she found herself living in a small apartment above a garage in the hills below Lake Hollywood. The garage was accessible via a small ladder, and it had a piano in it. So Pappademas was still writing songs but harbored no thoughts of rolling them into a larger project. Then a chance meeting with songwriter-guitarist Aaron Kyle (Geromino Getty) led the pair to work on songs together, and soon others joined in, including Kyle’s bandmates Chris Harrison (guitar) and Brian Soika (drums), along with bassist Jonathan Price. Pappademas, who’d never before worked collaboratively, suddenly found herself fronting a full band.
Three or so years in the making, Pappademas’ new album “Rock Record,” out next week, was recorded in Studio B of the Hollywood room formerly known as Crystal Sound (birthplace of Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life,” among others), which reopened in 2018 as Barefoot Recordings. There were occasional forays into the A studio, where Wonder’s nine-foot Yamaha piano still resides. “We’re not sure if he actually knows it’s still there,” Pappademas says. “Playing that was pretty out of this world.”
Co-produced by Pappademas and Kyle and engineered by Joe Napolitano, “Rock Record” bristles with sad-hearted breakup and post-breakup songs like “Why Aren’t You Crying” and “They Ask About You,” with the songwriter’s evocative piano and organ backed by the bronzed tones of guitarists Harrison and Kyle. Guitar ace Brian Whelan (Dwight Yoakam) adds some epic flourishes to “Why Aren’t you Crying” and “Real Life Bender.”
It all adds up to a robust, fully formed Americana-rock album, with Pappademas’ sinuous, slighty weathered vocals fully transmitting her bumpy flight and desire for a soft landing. That she found such talented co-pilots for her voyage makes it all the prettier.
||| Stream: “Why Aren’t You Crying”
||| Also: Stream “Real Life Bender”
||| Live: Liz Pappademas plays a free show celebrating the album release on Wednesday, March 11 at Zebulon, joined by Stevie Weinstein-Foner and Near Beer, with a DJ set by Yohei Shikano. Info.