Australian performer Eliza Jaye succumbed to cancer earlier this year but she had been working on and recording an album of songs for a while before that and that album is now due for posthumous release in a couple of weeks. Middle Child is that album and was recorded in Mumbles, Wales, and produced by Joe Gibb, who says of that time, “We recorded in my home studio overlooking the garden, it was a very relaxed affair, though Eliza knew exactly what she wanted. She completely steered the thing, with a little input from me. Eliza played some shows testing the material, consistently leaving the crowd wowed. I clearly remember gasps of delight at the end of a rendition of Déjà Vu.”

Eliza was born Elizabeth Jane McInerney in Sydney, Australia, and studied violin from the age of five. As a teen, she picked up the guitar and discovered rock ‘n’ roll. A degree in opera followed but Eliza left early, having been drawn to the life of a traveller and artist, which led her to Europe and Brighton in particular, meeting Oli Moule of Moulettes: “I stumbled across her in a pub in Brighton. I asked her to join Moulettes straight away. She toured with us for two years. She asked me to help with this record and I drummed on three tracks.”

Towards the end of the album we get three tracks that perhaps signal to Eliza’s cancer diagnosis, with ‘Orchid‘, ‘The Desert’ and ‘Take the Time‘.  These three songs have a peace and quiet beauty, focusing in on happiness and the inevitability of life and made this listener at least, appreciate the simple pleasures in life just that little bit more.  Before we reach the final tracks though, Middle Child gives us a quite extraordinarily versatile look at Eliza’s talents as a songwriter, musician and singer.  No two tracks have a similar feel, a rare feat on a full length album and showcase the soul, sass, folk and punk aspects of Eliza’s voice and song writing.  It’s one thing to be able to write songs in such diverse genres but yet another to be able to perform them with such panache.

The stand out tracks for me are ‘Sugar Cane‘ and ‘Tenderness‘, two songs that are as far apart as you can imagine but demonstrate Eliza’s appeal.  From the first word of ‘Sugar Cane’ you feel the brilliance and strength of Eliza’s voice; full of sass, tough but with a hint of tenderness underneath, the song and the singer were made for each other.  Moving on to ‘Tenderness’ and Eliza’s voice becomes full of soulful purity and the tenderness that was hinted at with the first track is allowed to blossom and holds the listener spellbound, together with the acoustic overall sound.  In between the two, ‘Run Like The Nile‘ unfurls the punk aspect to Eliza’s music and you can see her in your mind’s eye, jumping about the stage like Patti Smith or Chrissie Hynde.   The experimentalism of Eliza’s music comes through in ‘Déjà Vu’, whilst disco and even a Bondesque song are found in ‘I Do‘ and ‘Tigers‘, respectively.  This album is wonderful and for those who like an album of startlingly different sounds, this is ideal.  

Middle Child is released on 18th September on C.R.A.F.T Pop.

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