Lizanne Knott announces her fifth studio album Anthology, set for release on September 7, 2018 via Transoceanic Records. Knott has shared the stage with artists like Shawn Colvin, Suzanne Vega, and Joan Osborne, among others; her discography has been revered by outlets like Folk Radio UK, Maverick Magazine, and No Depression, who named her album Excellent Day one of the “Outstanding Albums of 2016”. In addition to the release of Anthology, Knott will play AmericanaFest in September and will embark on a European tour the following month (full dates below).
For a lot of people, the thing they do for work is just a job. But for a few, it’s a calling, if not a compulsion. It’s something they simply have to do. It’s something that defines them, either to themselves or to the world. Such is the case for Americana singer/songwriter Lizanne Knott, who has been writing in various forms since she was a kid. Whether in songs, poems, or stories, writing has “always been a kind of release and a way to get me through some very trying times in my life,” she confesses.
Those times have included growing up in Pennsylvania, leaving home at 15, marrying twice, raising four daughters, working with horses, making four albums, touring the UK, and more. And it all finds its way into and through Knott’s writing, including on her latest, career-spanning release, Anthology, released on Transoceanic Records. “Songwriting brought me to a realization that it’s what I was meant to do,” she says. “I think most of us would like to change the world, to have an impact. Early on, I felt that I could reach people, maybe bring some consciousness or release into the heaviness of their day, even with a very sad song—or maybe more so. It gave me a place to feel safe in the direction I was going.”
With the remixed and remastered collection of songs that comprise Anthology, the direction Knott is going is straight to the confessional booth. After opening with “Stone’s Throw,” a potent country blues-rocker written by Nathan Bell, Knott digs right on in and pours right on out. The gentle sway of “Don’t Let Me Down,” the subtle pulse of “Miss You,” and the slow waltz of “Little Sky Town,” all set the stage for the absolute heartbreak of “Tennessee.”
“‘Tennessee’ is a very personal song, a phone conversation with someone I cared/care deeply for,” Knott confides. “I think it conveys a universal feeling of wanting something to work out, but knowing it’s not meant to be and being okay with that. It’s about being able to walk away.”
That notion — of letting go of someone as part of loving them — is present throughout Anthologyin different forms. With our hard-wired predisposition for connection, it’s a practice that comes more easily for some than others. And it’s something Knott has engaged in for most of her life. “I think maybe because I experienced a sense of abandonment at an early age, that sense of loss, that feeling has never really left me,” she offers. “While I’m a bit of a loner and fiercely independent, I like people and am always striving to connect. I have friends in different places that I genuinely care about. It doesn’t matter to me that they are a movie star or a trash collector. I have a lot of empathy and compassion in my heart. Connection is a big part of what drives me.”
Song after song, Knott searches for connection and strives for compassion in familiar, yet fresh ways. Sometimes, she does it with a swampy swagger, as in “Lay My Burden Down.” Other times, it’s with a driving groove, like in “Come for the Kill.” Every time, she conveys a simple, basic truth that is both her own and everyone else’s. “We all interpret things differently. My experience with the same scenario that confronts someone else will be completely different in perception,” she says. “I try to immerse myself in the moment, to feel everything to its fullest and that, in turn, affects the way I write.”
Knott also believes the ability to immerse herself in the moment has kept writer’s block at bay. It can be an insurmountable challenge for some, but not for her. “I have, on a few occasions, felt blocked, but it never lasts for long,” she insists. “I get into my car and drive to the ocean or spend time with my horse. Nature, in general, and animals are always present and tend to free up my mind.”
It’s no wonder, then, why nature makes myriad appearances on Anthology — in storms and seas, mountains and moons. The natural world is Knott’s world. It is her refuge. “I love animals and connect with them on a deeper level,” says the self-professed weather freak. “In my life, I’ve never lived anywhere — and I’ve lived in a lot of different places — where I didn’t have my dogs and cats with me. I love hiking and being outdoors. I love storms.”
Even “Devil Will Dance” (the set’s one previously unreleased inclusion) draws from that same nature-filled well, and unsurprisingly so. And it fits within the retrospective framework ofAnthology, in its own way. In stylistic terms, Knott’s artistry has always paired traditional pulls with contemporary pushes. Partial credit for making it work so well goes to her Grammy-winning collaborator, co-producer Glenn Barratt (Elton John’s Aida, Diana Ross, Melody Gardot), as well as tracks mixed by legendary producer/engineer Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Jack White, Sturgill Simpson).
No matter the time, topic, or style, the songs of Lizanne Knott do define her…in this world, in this moment, and on this Anthology.