We went to see Liv Austen the other week at London’s Borderline venue, where she supported The Rising and Jess and the Bandits. We were impressed by her performance, and decided to find out some more about her. Ahead of our interview with Liv, here’s her Essential Weekly Playlist.
‘Man In The Mirror’ – Michael Jackson
I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. This song has been with me since I was maybe 6 or 7 years old – and it is one of the very few songs that just have a hold on me and always will. Written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard – fantastic songwriters. The message of looking to yourself to make a change in the world and in your life is one of the most important messages I can think of! And no one can sing it like Michael. A friend once told me that he also loved the song but that “the last minute of the recording is completely pointless”. I almost ended our friendship there and then.
‘So Small’ – Carrie Underwood
One of my greatest sources of inspiration from the last few years is Carrie Underwood. She is a fantastic storyteller and although she has been very lucky to work with some of the greatest songwriters in the industry in my opinion, she is well deserving of those songs as I believe she performs them with an integrity and a passion that is second to none. I remember when I first got introduced to Carrie’s music – this was one of the songs that just had me hooked from the start. “Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand”. Wow. The lyrics are incredible and so is the melody and production. Written by Carrie, Hillary Lindsey and Luke Laird.
‘Sound of Silence’ – Simon and Garfunkel
I grew up listening to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel because both of my parents were in to it. They introduced me to a lot of cool music, but also a lot of the time (especially when I got in to my teens, naturally) we didn’t exactly agree when it came to music. Whenever we played these two guys in the car though, we all went silent. Or started singing harmonies. A really fun (probably annoying to anyone else) trait that everyone in my family inhabits.
‘This’ – Darius Rucker
I was a closeted country fan for a while, and I remember that around the time that I was finally out and proud, and consequently made up for lost time by listening to country radio 24/7, this song was playing more than any other. Luckily I loved it so much that I never got sick of it and I’m still not. Again, I am a sucker for lyrics and these lyrics are so wonderful. I write a lot of songs about trying to accept life as it is with all its ups and downs, and this is probably the ultimate anthem in loving your life for how it turned out, mistakes and misfortune included.
“Thank God for all I missed – cause it lead me here to this” says it all.
‘No Such Thing’ – John Mayer
I love John Mayer’s songs. I believe that he is one of the greatest songwriters this side of the millennium and just keeps reinventing himself and gets better and better. I have still chosen one of his earlier songs to add to this list – as I believe this must have been one of the first songs I heard by him. At the time – me still being really insecure about whether I was cut out for a life in performing arts – this song just gave me so much confidence and allowed me to put those voices of doubt out of my head. I remember listening to a live recording of him performing this song where he does a hilarious intro to it, singing about conversations with his mother where she tries to make him do literally anything but performing. “You like computers, don’t you? Maybe you can do something with computers!” I can relate to that conversation.
‘Penny and Me’ – Hanson
Hanson is in my opinion one of the most underrated indie pop bands of our time. That is not to say that they are not successful, they are constantly doing shows in the US and have released some incredible albums since their very early success in the late 90s. But I believe they don’t get the credit they deserve as a brilliantly talented band with a very unique sound. I started off as a young fan taking turns having crushes on each respective brother, but I still follow them and their music and can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Every album has a different feel to it and is just a pure joy to listen to. Penny and Me is one of my favourite songs, featured on their 2004 album Underneath, which they fought hard to release with the artistic integrity they intended for it (a lot of resistance from their label, but they are total badasses and decided to part ways with their label and start their own). I did a piano cover of this song and I really want to do it live with my band soon too.
‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ – George Jones
As a songwriter (and being obsessed with lyrics) – this is probably the ultimate “I wish I wrote this”-song. It has the most heartbreaking (but not at all sentimental) story and an incredibly simple melody line. I cover this song a lot. Originally performed by George Jones but covered by the likes of Johnny Cash and LeAnn Rimes. It is pretty much known as the greatest country song of all time and I have no problem understanding why.
‘The Long Way Around’ – Dixie Chicks
Dixie Chicks are fierce, talented, funny and there is no one like them. This song reflects the well known struggles they faced after exercising their freedom of speech, but I think it can be an anthem for anyone who goes their own way and doesn’t try to fit in at any cost, especially artists and creative people will probably relate to it. The lyrics resonate with me so much and I love the attitude in Natalie’s voice.
‘I Should Go’ – Levi Kreis
I came across this song when I watched a dance performance, it is such a gut wrenchingly vulnerable song! This guy’s voice has so much emotion and soul to it, and the song – about a love that can’t happen, but can’t be denied – gets me every time. If you’re anything like me, prepare to cry!
‘This Is Your Life’ – Switchfoot
If I ever get my own tv show, this song will be the theme tune. It has been with me for years and is such a great reminder for me to just check in and remember what is important in life. The production is so powerful and it has a fantastic message and a great melody. Switchfoot is a fantastic band that I was introduced to when watching One Tree Hill (one of the greatest sources for discovering new indie artists I have ever had!) and they are worth checking out. This song is likely to be added to the soundtrack of your life.
See Liv perform live next at Ilfracombe Holiday Park on 21 November. ‘Workin’ Man’s Dream’ is available on (signed!) CD from Liv’s website, download from iTunes and Amazon. You can also stream it on Spotify.