Lisa Germano has paid her dues, spending most of her career as violinist of choice for the good (Neil Finn), the bad (Bob Seger) and the ugly (John Mellencamp). But even after three albums and several tours with the Coug, Germano has considerable hipster cred and, more important, one hell of a new record. Lullaby for Liquid Pig is a song cycle in the finest sense of the term: images, themes and sounds are introduced, explored and manipulated, all contributing to the central theme of alcohol and addiction.
That said, Lullaby addresses alcohol and its effects in a somewhat clandestine fashion. When Germano sings about drinking wine in "It's Party Time," her words become more slurred and less lucid, but they always sound peaceful. Similarly, her repeated affirmations that "It's a buzz, it's a buzz" in "From a Shell" is something of a head rush itself. Unlike Aimee Mann, who wants to tell you up front that it's all about drugs, Germano takes similar themes and cloaks them in suitably fuzzy, shapeless robes.
The "lullaby" of the title is appropriate enough: Germano's voice and instrumentation evoke the breathy, trippy qualities of deep sleep and gentle waking. The production is immaculate and adventuresome, at once hazy and amorphous but concrete enough to latch onto. When the mandolins slip in on the title track, it's almost a relief to have something solid and organic amid the ringing bells and thick, reverberating haze. There are guest spots from Finn, Johnny Marr and former Prince collaborator Wendy Melvoin, but the album is so seamless that their contributions are difficult to place without consulting the liner notes. It's a compliment to Germano's vision and perfectly in keeping with the album, the strength of which is its lack of definition.