Singer-Songwriter Lizzy Lehman Finds “Sweet Relief”

New single with Project Traction lifts the lid on letting go

Lizzy Lehman’s no stranger to a Chron interview, and her music’s graced this fair paper’s online and print prose many times previous – both as frontwoman for Carry Illinois and in her solo outings.

Courtesy of Lizzy Lehman

But her newest single, “Sweet Relief,” done in partnership with Jim Eno’s women- and nonbinary-folks-focused Project Traction and co-produced by fellow singer-songwriter Sara Houser, is a new chapter in the musician’s life.

When Houser initially reached out about working with Project Traction, Lehman agreed right away. Producing the song with a peer was cool, she says, as was being able to record with someone other than another white, straight, cis dude. But the real magic was in Houser’s sensitivity to the song’s core: its lyrics. By asking, “How can we have the rest of the music in the song support those lyrics and bring those lyrics to life even more?” Lehman says Houser elevated the songwriting through her production. Houser plays synth, keyboard, piano, and sings background vocals on the song, bringing in what Lehman calls “textural elements” that helped bolster the music and lyrics already on paper.

Getting to experience a more involved preproduction also added a new, more fun layer to the recording process. “Before recording, we sat down and made a demo,” Lehman recalls, “and [Houser] would sit down and sort of listen to it, and think of parts beforehand … which I haven’t done as much of before with some of my other songs. I really liked it a lot, because it felt like going in, we knew what the vibe was of the song and where we wanted to take it.”

Left: Lizzy Lehman; right: Sara Houser (Photos by Mama Duke (left); Dave Creaney (right))

Lehman refers to her recent songwriting approach as “lifting the lid to look into the more personal stuff,” and “Sweet Relief” does play vulnerable. The song, which she calls her most vulnerable and honest in a long time, is dual-sided: one part an unpacking of friendship lost due to mistrust, and another part a joyful celebration of pushing past COVID-related frustrations. Many of the lyrics directly reference the rot at the root of Lehman’s real-life split. Lines like, “I just wanna break something/ The way you smashed my trust,” draw from experiences with a friend pushing boundaries that shouldn’t have been touched. “This was a friend that we’d had for a long time,” Lehman explains. “And then certain incidents happened that triggered us [to] be like, ‘Oh, I guess we can’t really trust you.’ And, that’s a really difficult feeling to deal with somebody who you’ve been friends with for longer than a decade.” Ending what Lehman estimates to be a 13-year relationship was a long process, but ultimately letting go was what gave her the relief the song celebrates – one less stressor during a pandemic full of anxieties.

Currently collecting work for the beginning stages of a new EP, Lehman can’t say when the record will come out – just that she’s got new music brewing. What she will say is that this new single is a message about release. “I think a lot of us, we think that friendships or relationships are a forever thing. And you know, sometimes they’re not,” she muses. “I feel like I’ve dealt with enough stuff in the past where I’ve been taken advantage of, or stepped on, and, sort of [been] nonconfrontational and that doesn’t ever really help things … if your day to day can be better and you’re gonna have a better headspace from removing something that doesn’t serve you then why not do it?”

“Sweet Relief” is available on all streaming platforms and for purchase on Public Hi-Fi’s Bandcamp. For more Lizzy Lehman, check out her Bandcamp at

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