When Hannah Liuzzo of Boston pop band Lilith is ready to close a chapter of her life, she writes. Perhaps she is closing the chapter on continuing that one toxic friendship. Or, maybe she’s closing the chapter on faking it for the sake of someone else’s feelings.
“I need to put it in box and close this chapter,” Liuzzo explains. “When you song write, you can take something really ugly – like if you’re having an ugly feeling or an ugly reaction – and you can put it in a cute little box and put a little bow on it and put it away. The next time you reflect on it, it’s in the form of something you enjoy.”
These neatly wrapped boxes – filled with newfound catharsis and self-acceptance – make up Lilith’s debut record, Safer Off. Inside each, listeners can find their own path to empowerment detailed in these winsome and impassioned tunes.
For the members of Lilith, the release of the effervescent and fearless Safer Off has been a long time coming. Guitarist and singer Liuzzo, bassist Kelsey Francis and drummer Adam Demirjian all met at band camp as teens and have remained tight-knit for 16 years now (back then, Liuzzo and Francis both played flute while Demirjian played guitar).
“I don’t think I knew at the time that we would be lifelong friends, but I think I knew they were my people,” Liuzzo says.
The friendship between Liuzzo and Francis in particular – just imagine a blockbuster buddy comedy come to life – is the lifeblood of Lilith. This bond is what makes Lilith instantly authentic and relatable.
The two do pretty much everything together. They go out to eat. They work out. They go to the movies.
“I feel like a lot of the time we are doing things that end up inspiring us or being some route to creativity,” Liuzzo says. “I think it just makes it so our creative input is somewhat similar, and then we have a lot of time to hash things out and riff and work stuff out.”
Safer Off was the culmination of Liuzzo unpacking the past few years of her life. To do so, she sifted through her old journals and revisited her memories – the good and the bad.
Although she doesn’t write every day, Liuzzo still finds it vital to journal, taking the advice of humor author David Sedaris.
“He released a bunch of his journal entries from the seventies to the 2000s. At the beginning of the book, he’s like you just have to let go of the idea that you have to write down something important every day, and you’ll eventually start to notice what you find important.”
What Liuzzo found in her journals was how strong she has become as she has grown older. Through her writing, she became more self-aware of what she has overcome and what’s best for her own future.
Although her confident songwriting details crumbling friendships and doomed relationships, the sugary sweet melodies celebrate conquering these challenging times.
On cheeky opening track “Vacation,” Liuzzo recognizes the beauty of her self-growth while a friend becomes more and more of a stagnant thorn in her side. Hovering over fiery guitar, the fierce Liuzzo sings, “I’m doing better, and you’re the same.” Her vision no longer clouded by rose-colored glasses, she ends the song with, “You recoiled / My patience boils / Your charm is gone, and that’s it.”
The bold, unapologetic tone of “Vacation” is just a taste of what else Safer Off has to offer. Liuzzo isn’t afraid to call out the toxic people in her life who are bringing her down, and she inspires others to do the same.
The track “In Real Life” is driven by a brooding surf-rock vibe, twang-y guitars and melting harmonies. And it’s delightfully blunt: Liuzzo recognizes the fakeness in another, so she says buh-bye. At the end of the song, Liuzzo unabashedly chants, “I’m all you want / I’m gone.”
Safer Off isn’t solely candid in its voice: There are sparks of comedy, too, which Liuzzo admits she uses as a shield at times.
“I’m very bad at talking about feelings,” she says laughing. “I think humor is my way of deflecting. It’s something I’m interested in and drawn to, and it’s a definite, full-on coping mechanism.”
Take the dark humor of “Coward” for instance. It starts off tempered, but a hot-blooded zeal burns underneath. Liuzzo paints a vivid image when she snidely sings, “If I come any closer, stick a knife in the toaster / Turn it on / Your troubles are gone.” Her aggravation with this coward builds and culminates into the repetition of the line, “You’re turning out to be a coward / You really need to get over / Your indecision to hold her.”
The anthems that make up Lilith’s Safer Off – whether they are brash and fun or soft and yearning – illustrate how far Liuzzo has come in her journey to empowerment and inner peace. Although deeply personal, the beauty of this record is that its message is undeniably universal: You’re stronger than you may think. You got this.