Elizabeth South grew up singing various types of music. Broadway was her first love but she enjoys many other styles of music including classic rock. She says: “Nothing makes me happier than to write a song, record it, and make a music video. I write songs about love, faith, and life”. She adds: “I believe in the kind of faith that invites people by love in and not pushes people away by harsh judgment and legalism”. Her latest effort is a mainstream country album called DREAM WITH ME (2013). It was produced and arranged by Billy Smiley for Northern Shore Productions. The album is dedicated to Elizabeth’s nephew and niece, Nathan and Anna South. Some of the instrumentalists on the album are: Steve Brewster (drums), Mark Hill and Matt Pierson (bass), Blair Masters (keyboards, accordion, B3 Hammond), Bruce Bouton (Steel Slide and Lap Slide Guitars), and Andy Leftwich (fiddle, mandolin, banjo).
The album opens with one of six songs penned by the duo of South and Billy Smiley. ‘Run Away With Me (Cinderella Song)’ is an upbeat country track with a carefree, poetic chorus: “If I’m your Cinderella/You’re my Prince Charming/It’s almost past midnight/So let’s just run away/Run away with me/Your search is finally over/Found my glass slipper/Come away in my carriage/ Where it’s just you and me/Run away with me”. ‘Honky Tonk Jive’ is one of two songs on which Andy Leftwich is a co-writer. This one will make you want to get out on the dance floor both musically and lyrically: “Playing on the bandstand/Rippin’ up the joint/Tripping to the backbeat/With perfect points.../Flipping out the fiddles/Stepping in the air/Moving with your partner/Line up in a pair/There’s no need to ever back down/Cause honky tonk jivin’/Is what we’ve found/So drag me around/Gotta cut me loose”.
The title track ‘Dream With Me’ is a strong duet ballad with Matthew Jordan. He has been praised by the likes of Vanessa Carlton and John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting. Ex White Heart member Dann Huff plays electric guitar on this song that longs for unreserved lasting love: “Let’s just imagine that there’s no more time/Let’s get lost and steal away/Let’s make it last and never say/Good-bye, goodnight.../Tonight be mine/Turn away the doubt we’ve had before/’Cause I don’t want to fight this anymore”. ‘Down’ is a groovy country song that finds Elizabeth declaring her independence from a bad apple: “Funny how you had me hypnotized/Jekyll don’t you know you were Mr. Hyde?/Don’t slander me around and twist the truth/Cuz if you really do, you have no couth/I’m not gonna let you get me down, ooh, yeah/What’s right for you may be wrong for me/I’m gonna set this prisoner free/I’m shackled and torn and I’ve been scorned/By your lies”.
Dan Huff again plays electric guitar on ‘Holding on to Love’. He has played for the likes of Celine Dion and Michael W. Smith, and is a highly sought after country music producer. This song of romance falls into the inspirational category musically and vocally-think Twila Paris. Here are some of the words: “This is where it all begins/We started out as friends/Now we’re lovers ‘til the end/We were always meant to be/Sometimes we couldn’t see/It was our destiny/Through the ages/Our love will turn the pages/Til our dying breath/Our love will carry on.../We’ve been blessed from above, we’ll keep holding on to Love”. George Cocchini is a co-writer on ‘Take a Chance’. It encourages us to have an adventurous spirit: “Maybe, take a chance, you’ll never know/Just how far you’ll dare to go and try/Something new, something bold, that’s how you’ll learn to grow/Through the pain, through the cold, let this journey unfold, yeah”.
Elizabeth says: “I was married once briefly and it didn’t work out. I still hope and pray to find the love of my life, even though I feel time is passing me by. That’s why I wrote the song ‘I Love You’ featuring Vince Gill”. Gill and South’s voices go well together on this terrific, breezy country song. The video for the song has gotten airplay on the Zuus Country Network! Here are some of the lyrics: “I love you/Even though I’ve never met you/I’ve prayed for you/That you’ll come my way.../I’m saving all the best of me/With no regrets I do believe/Hurry now, it’s getting late/I can’t wait/Cause I love you”. ‘Painted Life’ is the song of one with a realistic, yet optimistic outlook on life: “Gonna stand against the winds that blow/Gonna face this with my heart and soul/Won’t let the petals of these roses fall to the ground/And the beauty of this world shines around.../Time to lay this burden down/Gonna trade these tears for a crown/It’s so hard to know which way to go/As I walk down this broken road”.
‘Change’ was penned by South, Billy Smiley, and Mark Boliek. This is an upbeat country song with a pulsating, infectious beat. Lyrically, it truly sees the potential in someone: “Whether you can or you can’t/Or you will or you won’t/That’s when you’ll find what you will be/Whether you win or you lose/Or you try or you fail/Just be the change you want to see/.../I have no doubt you’re changing/You’re just rearranging/All of the things you’ve held so long/Throw out all the lies and no compromising/Just know the place where you belong”. The ballad ‘Just Begun’ ends the album on a hopeful note: “When I was just about to give in/You came along and turned my world around/And right side up/Silent angels waiting/Crossing through like shadows/Whispering you’ve just begun”.
If you have followed Elizabeth South’s musical journey over the past few years, you know her tendency to experiment with various genres. DREAM WITH ME is a decent country debut. Fans of Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and Lady Antebellum will appreciate it. Elizabeth’s voice is her strong suit and she has good fashion sense. I’m rating DREAM WITH ME 83%. Personally, I prefer her previous pop/dance songs though. If she releases another country album I’d like to see her work with a wider variety of established industry songwriters, and include more personal story songs specific to her own life. For more info visit: www.elizabethsouth.com.