When Elisabeth Lohninger moved to New York City to study jazz it was supposed to be for one year. The leap she took was a supersized one.
Originally from an Austrian village with a population of 25, she confesses to an adjustment period. "I hated New York," she says. "The noise. The smells. The breakneck speed."
But something clicked at the end of that year, and she fell in love. Now, roughly twenty years later, she calls New York her home town. Married to pianist
and producer Walter Fischbacher, the power couple have released about twenty albums between the two of them, some in co-production, more forging their individual
paths in music. Eleven Promises signifies a merger of sorts. The blending of Walter Fischbacher's magnificent trio "Phishbacher" with Elisabeth's songwriting and lustrous, smoky alto voice.
Recorded in Germany with Goran Vujic on bass and Ulf Stricker on drums and produced by Walter Fischbacher the CD delves deeply into its creators' life experiences.
A lush, laid-back sound permeates the album, the backdrop for life stories, yearnings, and celebrations.
Below, Elisabeth shares thoughts on the tracks on Eleven Promises.
When We Were Young
The song is based on a memory of running through the rain with my brother when we were little. It was a summer shower, warm and wet and fun.
Sometimes, when we have bad days I think we all look back to moments in our lives that lift us up, make us smile and help us get through whatever challenge lies ahead of us.
Despite many challenges in our childhood, my siblings and I share many small moments that make us laugh, which is why I dedicated this song to my siblings.
This is one of the few songs I ever wrote on guitar. I was in Mexico at the time. The colors of the Caribbean have always boosted my imagination. In these
surroundings the question came to me, what if I could have everything I ever wanted. Would I be able to bear such wealth? I might add that this song was written over
ten years ago, and back then I was more conflicted about such things. Now I think my answer to this question would be "YES!". Walter's approach to the song
was that of an acoustic chill-out track with some sci-fi effects sprinkled in.
Take My Picture While I'm Smiling
This song is about the fleeting nature of love and superficial happiness. Moments come and go, life is in constant flux, and the present ephemeral and fleeting. And
yet the present is the only real thing we have in our lives. Being in the moment when it happens, letting go and surrendering to it is a big part of what drives this
song for me.
Girl from Ipanema
We'd performed a drum and bass version of this song during the last two tours we did together. But somehow it took a while to come together in the studio, finding
the right balance between the beat and the lyrics. When I decided to skip half of the lyrics in the A section and just let the voice float over the chords in half-time
the arrangement lurched into place. Walter playes a mean rhodes solo here.
This song is a classic 'moment in life' song where you find yourself in a situation that is upsetting and you just have to vent your frustration. Yes,
it was my birthday, and yes, I thought Walter had forgotten about it. I spent all afternoon fuming about it and finally sat down to write this song.
And then he walked in with a rose and took me out to dinner. The feel of this song was originally more of a slow swing vibe with different chords. For the trio
we shifted it into a lush, R&B-ish ballad. Ben Butler on guitar is a special guest on this track.
This is a co-composition of Walter and myself. The title comes from the meter in the chorus, which is in 11. This song is about marriage, about promises
we make and then hold on for dear life to make things work. There is a lot of trust in this song as well, trust that whatever happens, we return to each other.
Mellow Moon Moaning
Walter composed this tune several years ago. While in Germany we decided that we needed another killer ballad for our set. So I sat down in the hotel garden with a cup of
coffee and wrote lyrics to it. To me, this is the most epic song on the album. It feels like an entire movie, with arcs within arcs. Gary Schreiner joins us here on chromatic
Each Time You Leave
Written over ten years ago this song finally gets its Phishbacher/chill-out treatment here. Stemming from my experiences of being married to a touring
musician I think the song has a universal appeal. On a deeper level it is about love and loss, and strength that comes from being vulnerable.
A toe-tapping groove throwback to the early nineties this song is all about sticking to your convictions. It's about 'holding on' to what is truly important to you.
About ignoring the nay-sayers and the doubting voices inside your own mind and forging ahead with whatever gets you going. It's my 'follow your dream' song.
Merry Go Round
Another co-composition between myself and Walter, the melody in the verse is a simple children's song. The first line, "children playing in the sand",
is the lead-in into an anti-war song that gives voice to the frustration many of us feel in the cyclical nature of war and conflict. History goes round and round like a merry-go-round.
Easily the most complex song on the album, this co-composition alludes to Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage' in the verse before moving into an accelerating circular
motion in the chorus. Lyrically it delves into the power of false prophets, of well-meaning people who in their positive intent often end up doing more damage than good.
Ya Mi Corazon
This song is based on Pedrito Martinez's version of "Cuenta Con Los Santos" by Tirso Duarte. I wrote a new song on top of the existing structure.
It's a fun look at an amour fou when on vacation, something that excites you and makes you want to get up and dance. Adapting the layers of Rumba rhythms originally played
by multiple percussionists, Ulf Stricker showcases his 'all limbs on deck' dexterity here.