ELIZA: Leaving The Charts Behind

Reinvention is part of pop music’s ever-winding road, but what about those that hit an artistic crossroads and reinvent themselves out of their pop music profile? After almost vanishing from the charts, ELIZA (formerly Eliza Doolittle) forged a new path, leaving pop music in the dust.
Posted: 11 May 2020 Words: Dominic John Photos: Charlotte Patmore

What many enduring ‘great artists’ have in common apart from the obvious, is the fact that they consistently re-invent themselves to move with the times; the greats show their growth as people as well as musicians. Often, many pop musicians attempt to do the same with mixed results. Indeed for some (and naming no names) it’s the final affirmation that they are no longer culturally in demand or relevant. The relaunch of the career of the (former) pop artist Eliza Dolittle, now going by the moniker ELIZA, certainly has the marks of being a successful and sincere progression. 

During her pop years, there were foreshadowings of something different; the songs although ostensibly pop were positively catchy, with one track sampling the WW1 morale-boosting song ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag’ penned by the Welsh songwriters the Powell brothers back in 1915. In addition, 2013 saw a guest spot on the Vic Mensa track ‘YNSP’, and collaborations in and around the same time with Wookie and Disclosure. The latter collaboration was remixed by powerhouse producer Flume, who transformed a garage homage into a cerebral classic, casually gaining twenty six million views on YouTube. 

Then there was a hiatus, and for all intents and purposes ELIZA disappeared from the music world. There’s been no mention of the reason, and certainly no horror stories like the recent revelations about Duffy, instead just silence met with silence. ELIZA, as far as the digital eye can see, has not spoken about what happened and more power to her for not doing so; sometimes life just takes a new direction.  

ELIZA resurfaced in 2017 as an independent artist with a couple of singles, which distinctly differed from her pop content. These singles appear to have formed the foundations for the album, A Real Romantic, which was self-released in late 2018. A truly beautiful album which, from the outside, details the ebb and flow of her relationships. We’re given perspective of ELIZA's relationship with the world at large on 'Wide Eyed Fool’, her inner thoughts about prospective lovers on ‘Game’, and the trials and tribulations of dealing with a partner's toxic mood on ‘Putting out Fires’. The sound of the album is distinct, though there are obvious nods to both the neo-soul and contemporary jazz movements, with a palpable electronic overtone. Often, form meets the subject matter, for example on ‘Loveable’ ELIZA sings over a moody bassline about moving on from a failed romantic relationship. It is a true LP, although it does not have an overarching narrative - there is a story here, however, and a sense that each song is inspired by a sequence of real and very personal events rather than abstraction. I have to give a special mention for the penultimate track of the album ‘Alone and Unafraid’, which in many ways gives context to the other songs and also alludes to the journey of self discovery and the regaining control of her output that ELIZA has undertaken in her years away from the limelight. 

Since the album release there has been a European tour, an appearance at Glastonbury, and the release of numerous music videos which never fail to match the artistic integrity and originality of the tracks they bring to life. This year has seen collaborations with Skepta’s old producer Ragz Originale and the enigmatic UK rapper Jesse James Solomon, a sign that she is not returning to the scene without friends. In recent weeks ELIZA uploaded a video encouraging her old fans to check out her new music, a plea that will no doubt be met with a mixed response. However, what is less equivocal is that if she continues to produce quality content both sonically and visually, like she has since her return in her new guise, ELIZA will gain traction and the acclaim she deserves as an artist rather than just another conveyor-belt pop musician. 

To hear more from ELIZA, click here

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