Photo: MD Laidlaw at www.mdlaidlaw.com
Grin Like a Dog songs have been around for years, even if you haven’t yet heard of them. It’s only a matter of time before their songs are on your radios and on your lips; you won’t be able to help singing along. With roots firmly in country music, songwriter Steve Mitchell brings fresh, daring lyrics and chord structures to the genre that you think you already know. His wife, Leslie, has shopped his songs to the execs to find them homes, and this has been the purpose of Grin Like a Dog for nearly ten years. Until now, selling the songs has been the major focus of this plugging and publishing company. Since finding Liz Moriondo, the purpose of the company has taken a bit of a turn. When paired with Liz, Steve’s songs find a sultry, intelligent voice–a true songwriting partner and the perfect vessel for the words.
Liz is only twenty-one, but you’d never know it when you listen. Her voice is full and vibrant, with the technique necessary for amazing recording and the strength and beauty that gives chills during live performance. With several showcases under her belt and an LP of songs that feature her as primary or secondary songwriter, there is no question that Liz is ready to take the country music world by storm. If you think you’re going to be listening to the same old thing when you cue up your MP3 player to a Liz Moriondo/Steve Mitchell song, it’s time to think again.
What you can expect from Liz is a solid style that’s all her own, but she definitely brings a taste of Bonnie Raitt and Miranda Lambert when she opens her mouth. What you might not catch is her regard for George Michael, unless you recognize her ability to give tenderness and passion to the words when they call for it. She also brings her love for small-town America, and you will see that particular dynamic in almost any song she sings. Little White Hills tells the almost-true story of a murder near her hometown of Mount Vernon, Missouri, while What Goes Around Town takes a lighter touch with the story of townspeople talking about an affair. In fact, many of her songs mention real places in the area, and people near Springfield aren’t the only ones who will recognize them. No matter the approach in her songs, you can see Liz’s love for where she came from, even if she lifts the rocks to look at the underbelly.
By working with Liz, Grin Like a Dog can present the whole package–daring lyrics, a smart and gifted vocalist, and a cheerleader that just doesn’t give up. Leslie says that presenting a singer/songwriter is a bit different, but she’s learning as she goes. Grin Like a Dog feels that Liz is more than ready for the next step, and none of them have any plans of slowing down.
It’s time to mix things up in country music. Every other genre has felt that fresh infusion of clever lyrics and a blend of styles, and country is poised on that precipice. Grin Like a Dog and Liz Moriondo are in a perfect position to give it all that little nudge it needs. If you want to hear for yourself, you can catch Liz every Wednesday at Belcourt Taps & Tapas at 6:00 p.m in Nashville. She also performs at 3:00 p.m. on June 18 for the Show-Me Music Fest in Springfield, MO as an opener for Tim McGraw and other country greats. You can follow Grin Like a Dog on their Myspace page, and check out Liz’s website for more performances.