Elizabeth Moen sings soul outside your window | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Elizabeth Moen sings soul outside your window 

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click to enlarge Elizabeth Moen

Elizabeth Moen

Stephanie Sunberg

Iowa singer-songwriter Elizabeth Moen started performing only about four years ago, but she hardly sounds like a beginner. The 25-year-old has a soul-deep voice with a ragged, sensual edge that’s poised between bluesy world-weariness and folky innocence. The first tune Moen wrote, “Songbird,” is an achingly wistful love song to song, and it’s fully realized perfection. “I wish I could swoop you into my wings / But I’m just a songbird outside your window,” she sings as she strums on an acoustic guitar, capturing the hope of an aspiring performer with a rare, sweet clarity. Nothing on her self-released second album, 2018’s A Million Miles Away, quite reaches the level of that initial burst of passion and yearning, but its mix of alt-rock, country, and soul has its own pleasures. Her band’s stoned clatter nicely sets off the smoky, Amy Winehouse-tinged exploration of lust and regret on “Red,” and even better is “Time Is a Shitty Friend,” where Moen’s vocals come in exhausted bursts while the indie-rock instrumental alternately chimes and roars behind her. “Time, she isn’t always right,” she sings wryly, “and doesn’t always have your back.” For a young performer on the cusp of success, the ticking of the clock has to be an audible threat. Being talented and ready isn’t always enough, and it’s hard to know if Moen will get through that window, but it’s worth listening to her try.   v

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