Oct 24, 2022
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Cassie Scott
Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Elizabeth Moen has already garnered acclaim with a trio of albums showcasing her bluesy guitar talents, contemplative folk lyricism, and show-stopping voice. Fans last heard from her with her 2018 full-length record, A Million Miles Away, and her 2020 EP, Creature of Habit, and earlier this year she returned with a string of new singles announcing her fourth record, Wherever You Aren’t. Today, she’s back with the album’s title track, premiering with Under the Radar.
“Wherever You Aren’t” is an effort full of sparse plaintive meditations and soulful layered beauty. Moen’s voice is a powerful instrument, but she also knows when to pull back and let the quiet devastation of her lyrics speak. She uses that talent to full effect on “Wherever You Aren’t,” conjuring a delicate slow-burn as stately acoustic chords gently interlace with her layered vocal harmonies. Meanwhile, her lyrics trace a heartrending encounter with a past connection, wrestling with the pain of simply saying hello一“I would love to see you / Even though I shouldn’t / I would love for you to love me / Even though you can’t and couldn’t / I would love to hear you say / It’s so nice to see you / I would love it even though / We know that isn’t true.”
Steadily, the brittle and glassy harmonies take on a solid shape, filled out by swelling mournful strings as the track builds towards its shattering climax. By the track’s end, Moen finally shows her voice’s powerful heights as she repeats a heartbreaking final promise一 “I will smile and leave.”
Moen explains of the track, “This song is about coming back to a place you know someone from your past will be. As good as it would be to run into them, striking up a conversation would only strike up old pain. Sometimes the best thing is to just smile and keep trying to move forward. ‘Wherever you are, wherever you aren’t, that’s okay.’”