Liz Phair's acclaimed early work for Matador was marked by oddball melodies and frank, conversational lyrics, best captured on her lo-fi 1994 Matador debut "Exile in Guyville." But that same combination failed to edge Phair toward superstardom when she joined Capitol for 1998's "whitechocolatespaceegg." So rather than retreat back to indie-dom, Phair is making another try for the big time on the ultra-slick "Liz Phair," which features four songs co-written with the Matrix production team (Avril Lavigne).
While Phair is proud of her work with the Matrix, she knew that there would be compromises. "The Matrix were told by Capitol that they would only get paid it they wrote hit-type songs," Phair says. "Don't kid yourself, that's what I'm getting told, too. I knew if I wanted promotional dollars, I would have to turn in something to get on the radio."
It took Phair some time getting used to her new restrictions, says the Matrix's Lauren Christy. "For the first single ["Why Can't I?"], she was like, 'I love this, but this is such a big chorus. Can I do that?' We're like, 'Of course you can.' The song is this crazy-in-love type thing, and I think Liz was worried about that, but we told her what she's saying is really edgy. It might sound a little bit like Avril Lavigne, but the subject matter is nothing like Avril."
"This album represents me trying to get the voice of an authentic woman where young girls will hear it," Phair concludes. "I feel very frustrated with music and women and their role. I hope to God I can take my name at the end of this and make my own little recordings, but nobody made me do anything. If you hate this, point at me."