Reviews


THE MUSIC

21st October 2016 -Nic Addenbrooke

4 stars

Full Circle

African-influenced and Australian-based Miriam Lieberman’s latest is a gorgeous, world-wise journey that channels the best and bluest of Joni Mitchell.
It’s a collection of placidly wrenching stories, delicately worked by the trio’s interplay of violin, cello and Lieberman’s signature kora. There’s a wary strength grounding these tales, shored up by silken harmonies, Lieberman delivers her narration with a hopeful spark that lightens even the darkest parts of the album. Full Circle travels through some spectacular peaks and troughs, and leaves you with a wistful sort of reminiscence that’ll make you want to take the trip all over again.

THE AGE & SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

31st October 2014 – Jeff Glorfeld

4 stars

Birds of The Moon

Miriam Lieberman is often bundled into the “world” music category, probably because along with guitar she plays the kora, a 21-string instrument from West-Africa, which she uses to weave beautiful, exotic patterns and textures into her music. On the Sydney musician’s latest record, though, the lead instruments are Kate Adams’ cello and the violin of Lara Goodridge, setting a stage for Lieberman’s amazing voice. She has a knack for giving her songs a feeling of significance, even while they float with effervescent pop pleasure. Wikipedia’s explanation of world music includes a cited description as “someone else’s local music”. In Lieberman’s case, it’s ours. 

Read the full article…

 

The Music

22nd August 2014 – Milly Ellen – 4 STARS

Birds of the Moon
Link to article

From time spent in Mali, Mexico and India, it’s obvious that Lieberman is a musical sponge with the ability to master any instrument she fancies.

Her skilled execution of the kora, a 21-stringed West African harp, and acoustic guitar complement her rhapsodic lyrics and unadulterated voice on what proves to be a stellar fourth album from the Sydney local. Along with Kate Adams on cello and Lara Goodridge on violin, Lieberman mixes traditionally classical instrumentation with contemporary folk, resulting in an album encompassing everything from the stark pop melodies in Varanasi to lilting ambience in Incantation.

THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN

5th July 2014 – Tony Hillier – 4 STARS

Birds of the Moon

4 stars

DISTINGUISHING Sydneysider Miriam Lieberman from a veritable assembly line of local singer-songwriters is the fact she accompanies herself on kora as well as guitar. The 21-string West African harp adds distinctive colouring to her melodious, travel-inspired songs. On Birds of the Moon, her fourth album, Lieberman’s kora works symbiotically with her associates, violinist Lara Goodridge and cellist Kate Adams.

Employing glissandos, her accompanists add subtle Indian flavouring to several tracks, most notably Benta, a traditional Guinean song that Lieberman, who has studied in West Africa, sings in language over a basic kora figure. In Incantation, her unusual instrument sounds closer to that of a Celtic harp. Kora intertwines sublimely with the other strings in the bluesy title track. It lends an apposite Mexican lilt to Butterfly Boy — given that song’s geographic setting — without resorting to pastiche. Adopting a lower vocal register provides a nice contrast to preceding tracks, while the phrasing and tone brings to mind Joni Mitchell. Welcome vocal harmony bookends a poetic paean to the return of summer (Summertime Again): “Like a lover you warm my skin/ Open the window, I breathe you in”. Encased in a catchy African rhythm, Sweet the Rain exudes similar sensuality.

Based on a drum ‘n’ bass groove, Varanasi has a more forbidding lyrical thrust. The combined production and multi-instrumental acumen of Josh Schuberth (Josh Pike, Alex Lloyd, Tim Freedman) adds value to Lieberman’s finest album, one in which her beautiful voice is rightfully front of the mix.

Tony Hillier

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

JAN 2011 – Jeff Glorfeld – 4.5 STARS

Take a vivacious Sydney musician, transport her to the African country of Mali where she studies he kora (21 string harp) under the guidance of master player Toumani Diabate, and immerse her in the music and culture that inspires her. Record a record in Mali and Sydney with members of Diabate’s band, other Malian musicians and Lieberman’s Êown Sydney group and the result is an extraordinary melding of Australian and African sounds.

Lieberman is a robust singer with a sensual yet brittle undertone. Her songs are beautifully melodic, richly textured but can have pointed themes, such as the powerfully beautiful To Rise Again about the plight of Africa’s child soldiers, and the haunting Today is All about the loss of a loved one. Yes thereÕs a conscience at work here but also tones of fun, such as the bright and bouncy Rhythm and Sound and the rollicking My Time. There’s an elemental feel from the exotic African stringed and percussive instruments, anchored to the here and now by Lieberman’s deft guitar work and vocals sung in English and Bambara , the language of Mali. Simply brilliant.

NEXUS

FEB/MAR 2011 – Richard Giles

Miriam Lieberman has spent much time in West Africa especially in Mail, moving between the world of Australian music and the influences of Malian kora master Toumani Diabate and his symmetric orchestra (NEXUS 13/06) and other great Malian musicians. With her powerful vocals and upbeat African rhythms Miriam tells of her travels. Recorded in both Mali and Sydney, this album is her third and best yet.

ABC LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE

FEB 2011 – Seth Jordan – 4 STARS

Sydney based singer song writer Miriam Lieberman has a special interest in West Africa. Her 2008 recording WAKELI showcased the time she spent in Guinea; this latest release focuses on Mali, where she studied with kora master Toumani Diabate. Lieberman incorporates the African influences to create a true cross cultural hybrid. Recorded in Bamako and Sydney, with superb production from Blair Greenberg, the album features several traditional Mandeng tunes along with Lieberman’s ode to her late sister. Lovely.

WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN

JAN 2011 – Tony Hillier – 3.5 STARS

It’s a measure of Sydney sider Miriam Lieberman’s adventurous nature and her standing in West Africa, that she was able to recruit some of A-list Malian musicians for This is the story, including Grammy award winner Toumani Diabate, who guided the development of production on an album part recorded in Bamako. Although an accomplished kora player, the singer songwriter resists the temptation to back herself on the 21-stringed harp until the final track Wourou Songo, a traditional song arranged by Diabate and delivered in Bambara.

Lieberman duets with Aliou Sam in the Malian Lingua franca on DiabateÕs signature piece Djarabi with kora player Cherif Soumano. Elsewhere on Malisadjo and on her own excellent English-language compositions Bamako and As-Salam, sheÕs expertly backed by other members of DiabateÕs Symetric orchestra on balafon (wooden xylophone) ngoni (lute) and percussion (djembe, calabash, dundun). Cello adds poignancy to voice and guitar on Today is All, LiebermanÕs lament on the loss of a sister and lifes transience.

To Rise Again was prompted specifically by the plight of children caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone, but serves as a chilling reminder of the recruitment of boy soldiers in other African conflicts. Rhythm and Sound, a song with a Samba pulse tells of a South American mother forced to leave three small children to work long hours for precious little pay.

SYDNEY CITY NEWS

Miriam Lieberman is something of a renaissance woman in the world of ethnic music in Australia; somehow she achieves the almost impossible in blending patterned western-ed pop writing with the earthy mystique of African rhythms and freaky world instruments.

LIVE REVIEW OF CAMELOT SHOW

AUG 2011 – Kristie Nicolas

Take a heavy dose of West African musical sensibility, add a dash of Brazilian rhythms with folk music stylings and you get an idea of what Sydney based singer songwriter Miriam Lieberman brings to the table. Having been given the opportunity to live in West Africa, and study under Malian music great Toumani Diabete, she takes her audience on a journey to far away lands with her soulful vocals accompanied by her guitar & most interestingly, the Kora (21 string African harp), an instrument which is not only beautiful and intriguing in sound, but also in appearance.On the evening I went to see Miriam play, she was accompanied by a 6 piece band – Kate Adams on cello, Rick Falkiner on lead guitar, Simon Olsen on bass, Blair Greenberg playing percussion, Sibo Bangoura on djembe and Lara Goodridge on violin.

An interesting line up where each player was perfectly in sync, supporting each other & Miriam with ease.The evening began with the support act Pape Mbaye & his band playing a set of West African music. Starting off with a very chilled set, they slowly built up the music and warmed up the crowd, painting a musical landscape as vivid & bright as the colours they wore. You couldn’t help but smile and be uplifted by their subtle yet joyous rhythms.Miriam opened up her set with the kora assisted “Wourou Songo” from her latest album This is the story. This track is one of a few sung in Bambara – the lingua franca of Mali. From there on Miriam and her band took us away with them. in that moment we were not in the urban grittiness of Marrickville, Sydney but in the villages of countries rich in culture and tradition.

Through stories of magical African women, to a fathers a struggle to save his family from a war torn country, to a woman working selflessly to make ends meet for her children, to stories of love & painful losses, we were there. Miriam’s gentle yet deft kora and guitar playing, and her sweet yet powerful vocals, enhanced by rich harmonies from Kate Adams, Lara Goodridge and Blair Greenberg all complimented her storytelling.

As the performance went on, our journey continued, and though the subject matter was sometimes painful that her songs conveyed, there was also great joy in her performance. The crowd responded by dancing with jubilation. You could not listen to this music and not feel ecstatic, the rhythms of the djembe and Blair Greenbergs percussion work, including vocal percussion, only enriched Miriam’s music.

The energy kept moving forward towards the end of the show, with special guests jumping on the stage to join Miriam and dancers encouraging the crowd to continue the festive vibe of the night. Highlights of the show for me included “Mali Sadjo”, “Rhythm & Sound” & “Bamako”.

THE AGE

DEC 2010 – Jeff Glorfeld – 4.5 STARS

Take a vivacious Sydney musician, transport her to the African country of Mali where she studies he kora (21 string harp) under the guidance of master player Toumani Diabate, and immerse her in the music and culture that inspires her. Record a record in Mali and Sydney with members of Diabate’s band, other Malian musicians and Lieberman’s Êown Sydney group and the result is an extraordinary melding of Australian and African sounds.

Lieberman is a robust singer with a sensual yet brittle undertone. Her songs are beautifully melodic, richly textured but can have pointed themes, such as the powerfully beautiful To Rise Again about the plight of Africa’s child soldiers, and the haunting Today is All about the loss of a loved one. Yes there’s a conscience at work here but also tones of fun, such as the bright and bouncy Rhythm and Sound and the rollicking My Time. There’s an elemental feel from the exotic African stringed and percussive instruments, anchored to the here and now by Lieberman’s deft guitar work and vocals sung in English and Bambara , the language of Mali. Simply brilliant.

WAKELI REVIEW

FEB 2009 – ABC LIMELIGHT

What’s a nice Jewish girl from Bondi doing hanging out in West Africa? Answer: Making some very fine music. Having travelled extensively in Latin America India and Africa, singer/songwriter Miriam Lieberman’s self penned songs are permeated by her time studying musican and dance in Guinea. Accompanying herself on kora, balaphone and guitar, wakeli (“Courage in Susu) also features several excellent Guinean musicians along with veteran Aussie percussionist Blair Greenberg. Recorded in Conakry and mixed in Sydney Liebermans voice is strong and clear, while her lyrics speak of sorcery, monsoon season and emotions. Highly recommended.