A Lisa Loeb Fan Review of “No Fairy Tale”
Happy Saturday! Here I am, sipping my Lisa Loeb Wake Up! Brew coffee (thanks to The Coffee Fool) and reflecting on delicious Sour Patch Kids candies and Lisa Loeb’s new album, “No Fairy Tale,” which has been out for over 2 months now. I suppose I should put in my two cents, eh? Do keep in mind I’m extremely biased, and no matter what LL puts out, I’ll probably enjoy it (I’ve even been known to jam out to her children’s music on occasion). But at the same time, as someone who has followed Lisa ever since seeing her video for “Stay” on VH1, I’ve seen her music career “evolve” and may offer a more critical fan review of NFT (it’s okay – embrace the LL acronyms).
I should first mention that Lisa Loeb fans can sometimes be divided into two camps. One camp prefers Lisa’s more acoustic-driven, introspective folk tunes. The other camp, similar to your weird cousins on your dad’s side, is the camp we don’t like to talk about too much. They are the fans who appreciate Lisa’s bright, fun, and poppy tunes. With that being said, I enjoy all facets of LL’s musical personality (but I think you know which camp I’m part of). To put this in terms of albums, Camp 1 = The Purple Tape/Tails/Firecracker and Camp 2 = Everything Else After Firecracker (with a few songs here or there walking the line). But enough with Lisa Loeb fan culture (but really, how annoying are these new teenage girl fans – Camp 2 – whom were barely born when “Stay” came out?!).
NFT…ahh, yes. I like it. It’s a fun record. The title track is upbeat and single-y. “The 90s” gives you even more of that. This song is interesting because I think it describes the struggle Lisa Loeb (and her two fan camps) have when it comes to her evolving music. She reminisces about her early MTV days. She says things like, “They say I’m folk, but I like Bowie,” and “You say you loved me then (the 90s), but I don’t want to go back.” My response, of course, is embrace your 90s self, Lisa. It’s where you made a name for yourself and made some pretty loyal fans. Experiment and evolve but remember your roots. Fun, simple, poppy rock tracks are enjoyable, but so are complex, moody, acoustic-y tracks. The beauty of this record, though, is that even though Lisa is vehemently fighting the 90s in one track, she is ultimately Lisa Loeb and gives us a song like, “Ami, I’m Sorry”, a thoughtful, acoustic-driven track (you can also hear three acoustic alternative versions of, “Sick, Sick, Sick,” “Matches,” and “Weak Day” if you purchase the Amazon digital version). For the first time, Lisa even covers two songs on this album, “A Hot Minute” and “The Worst”, written by Tegan and Sara, which complement the album quite nicely. Other songs of note: “Walls,” “Married”, and my favorite song on the record, “He Loved You So Much.” “He Loved You So Much” has emotion, clever lyrics, and corduroy…cool.
Overall, NFT is a fun return for Lisa Loeb. It has a slightly more upbeat sound thanks to producer, Chad Gilbert, but at its core it’s Loeb and her catchy melodies…And that’s the better one to tell.
Chat with Tess Fowler, Illustrator for LL’s “No Fairy Tale” Album Art & Lyric Video
I had the opportunity to “sit down” with Tess Fowler and chit chat about her illustrating talents and what it was like working with Lisa Loeb on “No Fairy Tale”. As you may know, Tess is responsible for the cool Japanese “No Fairy Tale” album artwork:
Her illustrations have also made their way into the new “No Fairy Tale” lyric video as well as some new LL merchandise (available in Japan only?):
Here’s our conversation:
I’m a comic book illustrator/freelance artist. I was first published in Heavy Metal magazine, and I’ve illustrated multiple comics, including a few issues for the “Charmed” TV series adaptation. My passions lie in doing my own creator-owned work, though. Right now I’m working on a Western, based on real outlaws and notable figures in California’s history.
How did you get involved with Lisa Loeb and “No Fairy Tale”?
I began following Lisa’s Twitter when I saw her pop up in my recommendations there last year. A fellow artist followed her, so I thought I would, too. Like many of us, I knew Lisa’s music from my days as an angsty teen. I was curious what she was up to. She contacted me via Twitter after she spotted my “Charmed” art on my account. And we collaborated from there.
In this day and age, a lot of work is done virtually. Did you meet and discuss the project in person, or what was the process like?
The process for the album cover art was mostly virtual. It involved Lisa and two of her managers, as well as a lot of notes! We didn’t meet in person until after she had given birth to her son, and it was time to start finalizing the artwork. An interesting tidbit about Lisa? All her color descriptions utilize food comparisons. I found that terribly charming.
I like that Lisa’s cats, Chinchy Morty and Sweetie McGee, ended up in your illustrations. Was this by Lisa’s request? What requests and/or input were you given for this project?
Lisa had a pretty distinct idea of what she wanted for the album cover from the beginning, but had never worked in quite this way before. So I did a lot of showing her prelim sketches, and letting her mold the image bit by bit until she was happy. The full illustration depicts the whole thrown, her kitties at the bottom, and her entire body. I included generic cats in one of the early illustrations, and then the team sent me photos of her actual real-life cats so they could be included. It just worked out so well that they stayed in, and went on to become part of the video, too. Lisa recommended a very literal translation of the song for the video art, and suggested including the cats in a “guiding” type position.
After having met Lisa’s husband and children, along with her kitties, I felt I understood what she meant by “No Fairy Tale.” When I got the chance to see her with her family, it suddenly made sense. She and the record company tweaked the video idea here and there after I turned it in, but it pretty much came out the way I’d initially imagined it. Her real life is more awesome than any fairy tale she could have imagined. I hope that came across in the art.
What did you like most about this “No Fairy Tale” project?
My very favorite part is the illustration of her husband and children. Being an artist myself, I recognize that emotion. That feeling of finding one’s home organically, and having it be the best experience ever.
Prior to working with Lisa, were you a fan of her music? What bands or musicians do you listen to?
I was one of the many adolescent girls who grew up on Lisa’s music. So working with her was a very neat and unique experience for me. My musical tastes are very eclectic, but my top two favorites are Tom Waits and Gordon Lightfoot.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I am currently about to enter the final phase on a book with one of my favorite authors and favorite people, Nat Gertler. I have a project in the works with author, Phil Brucato, as well as a creator-owned Western comic written and illustrated by me.