On her debut album, Young, Dumb and in Love, produced by Indie Americana artist and multi-instrumentalist Van Plating, New York’s liv. creates a striking collection about a topic endlessly ripe for reexamination: a really rough breakup.
“This album symbolizes the five stages of grief after going through a breakup,” she says. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Exploring deftly mature and immature love, Young, Dumb and in Love examines a grim moment in everyone’s life, each song reflecting a different facet of the diamond that is the human heart.
Hailing from New York’s Hudson Valley, liv.’s debut EP Life Vest appeared in 2020, while she collaborated with the Montreal-based band Squeeze Mason for a few songs. Written between January 2021 to March 2022 about half of Young, Dumb, and in Love was written before liv. started working with Plating, recording in Lakeland, Florida, where the latter lives.
“When I started putting my songs together for discussion with Van,” liv. says, “I wanted to tell the story of what it was like to go through heartbreak and find empowerment through doing so.” The two sat down with rough skeletons of songs, the sort of sketches that became characters of their own as they were being recorded and filled out.
“There was a big emphasis on capturing everything to keep the record as raw as possible,” liv. says. “You can hear breaths, you can hear stumbles, you can hear space.” It’s the sort of approach that makes Young, Dumb, and in Love deeply special and deeply human.
These are songs that make you want to belt along while driving through a small town on “Red Hoodie,” or meditate on how heartbreak can be a gift that teaches you more about yourself than you thought possible on “Ghost,” or how it’s okay not to be okay on “Hey You,” featuring vocals from Will Payne Harrison and Adeem Maria. Other guests include trans artist Mya Byrne who guitar parts throughout the record, guest vocals from Nathan Kalish on “Lemon,” producer Van Plating is featured on “Two Mistakes,” and Francisco Mena who co-wrote “If You Wanted to” with and taught liv. how to play the guitar.
There are woodland sounds, honky-tonk sounds, contemplative sounds, sounds to laugh with, and sounds to cry to. Take the driving title cut. Acoustic guitar, shotgun drums, emotive fiddle, it’s a song to make you feel like a 14-year-old with a school crush. Avoiding your feelings, denying your emotions, being excited, having butterflies: it’s all there.
But wait, there’s also the flipside: “You squeezed all the juice from me,” liv. sings on “Lemon,” a perfect way to describe an “It’s not you, it’s me” breakup.
Liv. sounds strikingly like a musical hero, Fiona Apple, on the brilliantly disconcerting, “The Mistake.” This is the sound of a woman scorned, tense strings, and a driving groove building and releasing tension. Again, all the facets of the breakup experience, coming into focus. Then there’s the delicate, atmospheric “Big Red Moon,” which liv. says is to date, her favorite song that she’s thus far written. “It takes me back to a moment where everything around me disappeared, where I felt like I could really, truly breathe,” she says. About falling in love with a moment and being with someone who makes the moment still more special, it’s a perfect closer.
“I think it’s important to highlight how empowering it is to record a female-written, female-produced record,” liv. says. “My entire experience was wildly empowering and uplifting.”
Listening to Young, Dumb, and in Love will stir something similar in anyone it encounters. It takes you from the moment your heart breaks to the moment your faith in love is renewed. It will make you feel the endless possibilities. It will make you feel young again.
“It’s rare to find a musician that bares their soul quite as openly as liv. does.” – Angelina Singer, Boston Sports Desk