Liz Phair Back In Action

Ready to finish the album. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

After nearly a year of being Exiled In Limboville, Liz Phair is back at work on

her next album with R.E.M. producer Scott Litt. The duo spent four days in an

L. A. studio last week.

She is expected back on the coast in a few weeks

for more work on the still-untitled album. The notoriously stage-shy artist

road-tested a few of her new songs at last year's SXSW festival, including "Oh

My God," "Ride," "Kiss the Buddha" and "Rocket Boy," a song she co-wrote and

recorded with Material Issue's Jim Ellison (who committed suicide last June)

which appeared on the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci's coming-of-sexual-age

film Stealing Beauty. None of the other songs have been released yet.

Phair began work on the album at the beginning of '96, tracking a dozen

songs with Litt in L. A. over the course of a month of 16-hour days. But as she

told ATN last year, she wasn't sure about the results. She said it was because

she and Litt both wanted to find a new sound for her music, but that they just

"couldn't find it together.

"Everyone is trying to make their vision

happen and I'm trying to get to the point where I can do that," Phair said. " I

desperately want to do something new that sounds different for me, and so does

Scott. We just couldn't agree on what that was."

She returned to Chicago

last year with the intention of re-working the tracks in her then-new apartment

by herself, hoping for a late fall '96 release. Phair told ATN that Litt had

boiled the songs down to one track, on top of which she planned to "add the

experimental stuff on the other seven tracks," never quite articulating what

that "experimental" factor she was looking for would sound like.

The

closest Phair came was to explain that the songs went "from rough and sloppy to

too clean and now I'm going to try and rough it up again and then clean it up

after that. I'm not re-recording the whole thing, just building new layers on

top, because, in a way, I always thought that what would be really good for my

music would be a very structured bed, which Scott is good at creating, overlaid

with my more sloppy tendencies."

A lot has happened since then, not the

least of which was the arrival of Phair's first child--a son--this past

December.

According to Matador Records, the album is slated for a September

release.