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Land of Talk Decoded 

Elizabeth Powell transforms complex feelings into powerful lyrics on new EP, Calming Night Partner.

by Stephan Boissonneault 

Photo by Melissa Gamache

With an eye toward blissful and somewhat vague lyricism, Elizabeth Powell has been making music as Land of Talk with her bandmates for nearly two decades. Illustrating complex emotions, there’s pain, trauma, and moments of sweet reprieve intricately woven into her brand of emotionally cryptic indie rock. 

“Speaking from somebody who was just brought up in North America, in the 80s, and 90s, there just isn’t much open communication about our struggles,” Powell says. ”​​So I think that’s why we make art or we write poetry, or we dance — to express ourselves in a less conventional way where we’re not afraid to be vulnerable.”

True to form, Land Of Talk’s latest EP, Calming Night Partner, is a short collection of tender songs that hit like a warm hug, with visceral lyrics that make you feel like you’re being metaphorically cleaved. “I think the palette, like the colour of the song and just the mood and the kind of space that it creates for the listener is most important for me. I’m always thinking of the listener and how they’re going to be feeling while hearing it,” Powell says. 

Still, sometimes it’s those one-liners that Powell is so famous for that encapsulate the whole feeling of the song in an abstract way. Like in her song “Moment Feed,” a standout track on the new album, when she repeats the chorus, “wings wide, heavy water,” in a haunting and hushed tone. “Maybe I just have a different kind of brain and maybe some people know exactly what I’m saying and maybe some might go ‘what on Earth is this code?’” Powell says.

One vocal phrase that was initially used as a placeholder on the title track also caught the ear of Besnard Lakes’ Jace Lasek, who mixed Calming Night Partner. “It was something I completely forgot about that he made sound so beautiful and really brought it to the front,” Powell says. “The line I’m singing is “sweet isolation,” which is pretty on point, so I guess it’s like one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Calming Night Partner was recorded in just five days and, as Powell explains, it was a struggle to get into a recording headspace during the pandemic but she wouldn’t trade the much needed “family reunion” between her bandmates for anything. “We were all kind of terrified and felt like the rug had just been pulled out from under us as a global society. And we also, as a band, hadn’t been spending a lot of time together,” Powell says. “But we happened to pull off a record in a record amount of time because we have a 20-year chemistry with each other.”

Both Powell and her bandmates are counting down the days until they can play their new songs live and are currently planning to tour in the spring. “It looks like something for May is in the works,” she says. “Which is exciting because I can’t wait to rock out.”