Elizabeth Moen

Wherever You Aren’t

Moen is a Chicago-based singer/songwriter who does much of her own guitar work on songs that are often deeply personal. This, however, is no pompous, acoustic-driven collection of bland Americana fare; the sound is amplified, her vocals edgy and teeming with attitude.

Accompanists, including guitarist Dan Padley on many tracks, focus on organically integrating guitar sounds and textures.

That’s apparent on the ethereal intro to the opening track, “Headgear,” reflecting elements of ’70s soul with churning textures. On the ballad “Clown Song,” she adds three guitar parts – electric, acoustic, and baritone, with pedal steel from Michael Eckert. She uses her acoustic and baritone instruments on “Wherever You Aren’t.” On another soul-flavored ballad, “Soft Serve,” Moen and Padley embellish her vocals with chords and simple, yet highly effective licks.

The medium-tempo “Differently” reveals the pair playing cleanly-picked, twangy arpeggios that complement her sharp, well-articulated vocal. They’re subtler, but equally effective on the offbeat and intense “Ex’s House Party,” where an amalgam of guitars (and strings) add heft to her pained, passionate vocal. It’s rare to hear any singer/songwriter utilize guitars with such meticulous flair and creativity, yet Moen’s instrumental skills enhance every performance.

This article originally appeared in VG’s March 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.</

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