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Likeness to Lily

Formed by singer-songwriter Susan Oetgen in 2003 after an unanticipated but fortuitous detour from her opera career, Likeness to Lily is not only named in honor of her great-grandmother, but also for an old legend which declares that these mythic flowers will bloom out of the dirt wherever a saint sheds her tears. Likeness to Lily also features pianist Tony Melone, bass player Ian M. Riggs and drummer Evan Pazner. Their 2008 record Farewell, Recruit featured guest luminaries Franz Nicolay and Peter Hess from the Hold Steady, Jeremiah Lockwood from Sway Machinery & Balkan Beat Box, Max Moston from Antony & the Johnsons, and Dave Wechsler from The Brooklyn Philharmonic.

Distinct for the classic lyricism heard in Susan’s melodies, and for the adroit harmonies and rhythms cultivated by Tony, Ian and Evan, Likeness to Lily’s songs are musical portraits of the world they inhabit, at once intimately confessional and operatically universal, modern and timeless. Susan’s writing is at the core of each composition. Much in the same way that classical composers set poetry to music, Susan translates her words into melody, which in turn becomes the raw material of the band’s collaborative arrangement process. Song arrangements vary from scored parts to conversational, dynamic improvisation, given Susan’s opera background and Tony, Evan and Ian’s shared jazz chops. The end result is a musical alchemy that reflects an ever-expanding circle of influences that range from Baroque opera and 19th C. French melodies, to Tin Pan Alley classics, to Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, and Loreena McKennitt, all the way to Cynthia Hopkins, Jeremiah Lockwood, Howard Fishman, Pyeng Threadgill, Aprille Goodman, Chris Parrello and so many other friends and colleagues in Brooklyn’s thriving indie-music scene. Easy to recognize and hard to define, Likeness to Lily’s music is, above all, true to its own sweet soul.