Record of the Week: Liza Anne’s ‘Utopian’

With tongue-in-cheek albums like Fine But Dying and Bad Vacation, the title of Liza Anne’s latest effort Utopian may seem like a stark contrast from their previous work. Upon the surface, you’d be right, but the more one digs into the mind and heart of Liza, it becomes apparent that they’ve always been working towards Utopian.

Written more than three years ago while they were still closeted, Utopian created a safe space for Liza’s queer experience, a haven for them to fully express themselves before they felt comfortable to do so in real life. Through the songwriting process, Liza was able to speak into existence a fantasy they thought was only possible on paper.

“I wrote Utopian as this sort of escape mechanism to wonder what life would feel like if it actually did feel like home. And that’s what’s so interesting, because if I would have stayed in the closet and, you know, stayed dating men and didn’t deconstruct gender in the way that I have, it always would have just been this fantasy of this utopia. But now that I’m out, I’m realizing, ‘Oh, this is a coming out record because I was writing about this fantasy that I thought I could only have on paper or in a song or in a journal entry.’ And it’s really beautiful because it’s like I was writing into existence where I would end up three years later,” Liza said.

With noted collaborators like producer Kyle Ryan and songwriter Madi Diaz, Liza’s peers and loved ones pushed their music to its limits. From the piano ballad “Internet Depression” to hair metal guitar riffs on “Cheerleader” and even some country twang on “Shania Twain Is Making Me Cry,” the musical choices on Utopian reflect the newly found freedom in Liza’s personal life.

“Kyle [Ryan] and I wrote it in 2020 and made it in 2021. And I was just envisioning the same emotion of utopian being this sort of escape into a more euphoric feeling. It was the same thing sonically. I was like, ‘What would happen if there were no rules? What would happen if I could do all of it? What would happen if I had a piano ballad and a disco song and a punk song and this all on the same record in the same sentence?’ I was also saying, ‘What would happen if I was out? What would happen if I was a forgiving person? What would happen if I stayed sober?’ It was all of these questions I was not only dealing with on an emotional level, but I also was handling sonically as well,” Liza said.

Accidentally on purpose, Liza Anne masterfully created a coming out record for the ages. The vulnerability can be heard beyond the pop perfection on Utopian, and it finally feels like Liza is at home in themselves and in their craft. Now, they hope these songs can be that entryway for the rest of the queer community.

“I think this record was my door…And I want it to give others permission to be fully embodied in themselves.”