Our modern world has settled on two instruments to best accompany the soul singer: bass and toy piano. Eliza Rickman is of the toy piano variety. Her limber voice reaches effortlessly into the upper registers, but she sounds most comfortable as a contralto. That's where her vibrato turns into a growl, and the restrained force of her melodies most strikingly offsets her twinkling instrumentals. Which, if I have not mentioned it, involve a lot of toy piano.
So we're kind of in Joanna Newsom territory. The lyrics address a lot of pretty little girl/dirty little mouth subjects. If you like Newsom, you will almost certainly like Rickman. The difference is that Rickman does not sound like a cat who is about to vomit, and she gives the impression that she could go Feist any moment. Her voice is beautiful. It's held back in many places by the constraints of twee songstress ethereality, but Rickman still has a good instrument. She'll put it to recognizable use at this week's Missoula show, but it will be worth it for those moments when she breaks free.
Eliza Rickman plays the Badlander Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 10 PM with the Fat Cats of Augusta.