Niece of acclaimed songwriter Vic Chesnutt, Liz Durrett
is a twentysomething Southern-gothic wunderkind, a Georgia native who understands the poignant effect of the deliberately slow pace, the impact of space and dirge, the value of lament and loss set to music. Full of emotionally distraught tunes that take full advantage of her aching voice, Durrett's sophomore effort, the Chesnutt-produced The Mezzanine
, overcomes a nagging Tori Amos vibe to get underneath the superficialities of sentiment. Intense narratives such as "Knives at the Wall" and "Shivering Assembly" are sparse but complete, the sound of someone putting together what once fell apart. And her voice, like Lucinda Williams on the worst Quaalude bender imaginable, twists the syllables until the words themselves are in question, a new kind of language the spill of despair as the ultimate declaration of heartbreak, however unintelligible or misunderstood.