Liz admires and has been influenced by….
Clive Gregson and Christine Collister: Seeing this great acoustic duo in action in the late eighties and early nineties was one of the main reasons I’m doing what I do now. I first saw them at a gig in Worksop. Then and on many subsequent occasions I was completely captivated. Christine’s singing was amazing. I’d never heard anything like it. Her voice and the way she meant what she was singing was hugely inspiring. She really knew what she was doing with her voice technically but this never seemed to be an end in itself: it was always a vehicle for emotion. She could be tender or angry, sorrowful or lighthearted. She had an immensely powerful and deep voice but one which could glitter like a gorgeous ornament in the middle and higher range. I’ve been trying (totally unsuccessfully) to capture some of her artistry in my own singing ever since. Clive’s fiendish guitar playing had a pinpoint accuracy and amazing flexibility but not really being a guitarist at heart I was much more interested in his rare songwriting abilities. Touch and Go, Home is Where the Heart Is, Northern Soul, Like Lovers Do… these were beautifully crafted gems, written (I feel sure) from the heart. I knew I wanted to write songs after hearing them, though it took me years to make a proper start. (My other favourite Gregson songs are Could this be the One? from “The Last Word”, Tattoo from “I Love This Town”,Black Train Coming from “People and Places”, and The Minute You’re Gone from “Carousel of Noise”)
At a Gregson & Collister gig there was a definite chemistry on stage and the music was interspersed with Clive’s northern wit and Christine’s infectious laughter. They could take you from tears to hysterics in the flash of a plectrum. Sadly for us fans, they went their separate ways in 1992, but I’m glad to say they’re both going strong and are still a major feature of the folk and acoustic scene today. I was lucky enough to meet Clive and sing “Telephone Lines” (a lovely post-duo number) with him at Hitchin Folk Club in November 2004. A treat for me.
Joni Mitchell: I didn’t know much about Joni Mitchell until somebody recommended her 1971 album “Blue” to me in 1992. I was in the process of having my heart badly broken at the time, so it was the perfect moment to hear A Case of You, All I Want, River etc. I happened to pick her 1976 album “Hejira” to try next and again the timing was perfect. Lots of very poetic songs about being a single woman trying to find meaning in a loveless life! I admire everything Joni Mitchell has done but nothing else touches me like those two albums. They seem so much more personal and moving than some of her other material which is arguably more sophisticated and intellectual. I do love “Both Sides Now”, though, an album which contains two of her own songs but is mainly jazz standards which she sings to a lush orchestral accompaniment. Last year I saw a wonderful documentary about her life (“Woman of Heart and Mind”) and was really impressed by her as a person as well as a singer, songwriter and musician. I suddenly understood the appeal of her earliest stuff which I’d never really warmed to. There’s lots of footage of her singing and you can see that she was just a totally mesmerising performer. She’s definitely the person I’d most like to meet, though the chances of this are extremely remote which is a good thing because I’m sure I’d just feel hopelessly inadequate! My song Sand and Pearl came out of seeing that film.