Nashville songwriter Liza Anne remembers the date of her first concert better than she remembers some of her loved ones’ birthdays.
The concert was Hilary Duff, who at the time was lumped in with other disposable teen idols like Britney Spears. Duff’s creative voice and songwriting, however, have proven surprisingly relevant to fans of Anne’s generation.
“It was my door to feeling fierce and powerful,” Anne recalls. Anne’s parents were religious, she says, so they “wouldn’t let me listen to Bikini Kill or Sleater Kinney.” Duff had to do, and Duff led Anne to her life as a touring musician.
As a “terribly awkward kid,” she explains, she needed a space to be angrier and louder. “It forces you to find new ways of inhabiting yourself,” she says of her experience as a performer.
Anne stops by Eugene supporting her well-received 2018 release Fine but Dying. There is nothing particularly Duff on the record. It’s closer to ’90s-era Cranberries than millennial pop, but Anne’s voice has a youthful quality, like freshly laundered linen on a clothes line, and the songwriting has moments of engrossing, close-to-the-skin intimacy as well as some endearingly awkward over-sharing.
On the album track “Socks,” Anne compares her lover to a pair of socks. “You’re my favorite pair,” she sings. “Wouldn’t want to throw you in the wash.” It’s a metaphor best left in the diary.
But elsewhere, like on album-opener “Paranoia,” the fireworks align and there’s a lovely sense of the younger generation telling us what’s next.
Anne’s Eugene show is Monday, a tough night to draw an audience, but she’s not worried. She calls an off-night show a “less-pressure situation. Whoever is gonna be there,” she says, “is supposed to be there.”