Like Alison Krauss and Sara Watkins before her, Elizabeth Tighe is a singer-songwriter who has started out writing and performing young, but who creates such realms within her music that one would not be wrong to consider it universal. And like Krauss, Watkins, Joplin, and many other powerful female artists before her, it is not too much of a stretch to believe that the Phoenix-based artist will continue to wow crowds with her precocious talent and only become better with the passing of time.
Though she’s currently based out of Phoenix, Tighe has plenty of connections here in the Tucson area. Her latest EP, Queen of Hearts, was recorded at Ronstadt Records by none other than Peter Dalton Ronstadt, who also plays on the record. She is often joined on stage by other Tucson favorites, including Petie’s brother, cellist Michael G. Ronstadt, and mandolinist extraordinaire Michael Markowitz.
The art present on her first album, Smoke Rises, and an accolade this side of Alice Cooper’s “Proof is in the Pudding” showcase might have had a say in helping sway these established musicians towards the teenaged singer-songwriter’s side, alongside the hearts of plenty between Tucson and Phoenix. With her crystalline vocal prowess, accessible arrangements, and engaging lyrics, it’s no wonder why she is becoming such a beloved face throughout Arizona.
Where her first release soared with its folksier tendencies, Queen of Hearts entwines itself with workings of blues and rock’n’roll that could come to expand her fanbase even further. With a studio band complete between Petie Ronstadt’s electric guitar and bass, Mike Markowitz’s mandolin, Zach Winters’s electric, and Kenny Harmons’s and Brian Matyjasik’s drums and percussion beside Tighe’s own driving acoustic guitar and piano work, production feels lush, introspective, and altogether bombastic at times as they collectively scorch on tracks like “Dreams of the Devil” and “Buried in Red”.
Elsewhere, lead single “Dust and Lies” is an ominous slow-burner that compels listeners with its windswept eminence, and opener “Angels of the Rain” rocks out with more of an optimistic beat to its arrangement that riles listeners up for an engaging listen throughout the remainder of the EP. Tighe plays with a more gradual rise with the progressive instrumentation of “White Walls”, but certainly doesn’t miss a beat as she wears her heart on her sleeve to make it perhaps the most compelling offer on display. Markowitz’s mandolin is on full display here, and it is wonderful. Finally, the EP closes out with the titular “Queen of Hearts”, an Alice in Wonderland-inspired rocker with an earworm of a chorus.
Ultimately, with Queen of Hearts, Tighe is exhibiting her growth as an artist tenfold as she expands beyond the sound she had established in her first release to become something more. She’s got the vocals, the music, the versatility, and the heart, and she proves it more every time she hits the stage. One might wonder if Tighe might just be turning out with a similar career trajectory to our Linda yet.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm