Liz Phair is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. She began her career in the early 1990s by self-releasing audio cassettes under the moniker Girly Sound, before signing with the independent record label Matador Records.
Her 1993 debut studio album Exile in Guyville was released and received significant critical acclaim for its very blunt, honest lyrics and for the music itself, a hybrid of indie rock and pop. The album established Phair's penchant for exploring sexually explicit lyrics such as in the song "Flower".
The release of Phair's second album received substantial media attention and an advertising blitz. Whip-Smart debuted at #27 in 1994 and "Supernova", the first single, became a Top Ten modern rock hit, and the video was frequently featured on MTV. Phair also landed the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine with the headline "A Rock Star is Born."
Following Whip-Smart, Phair released Juvenilia, a collection of some early Girly Sound tracks and several B-sides, including her cover of the 1980s song by The Vapors, "Turning Japanese". In 1994, Phair made several live television and radio appearances in an effort to promote Exile in Guyville and Whip-Smart, including David Letterman performing "Never Said" and "Supernova" and Jay Leno performing an acoustic version of "Whip-Smart".
Phair's third album, entitled Whitechocolatespaceegg, was finally released in 1998 after some delays, which included a disagreement about content. The album displayed a more mature Phair, and reflected some of the ways marriage and motherhood affected her. The single "Polyester Bride" received some airplay, but the album was no more successful than her previous records. To promote the record Phair joined Lilith Fair. Phair performed on the main stage along with acts like Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Missy Elliott. She also opened for Alanis Morissette on her 1999 Junkie Tour.
In 2003, her self-titled fourth album was released on her new label, Capitol Records. Phair had not released an album in several years; she had been working on her record, as well as making guest appearances on other tracks. The album received many negative reviews, especially from the independent music press, who accused Phair of "selling out" by making the record very pop-oriented. The debut single "Why Can't I?", co-written by The Matrix, did reach the Top 40 charts in North America, and its follow-up, "Extraordinary," was also somewhat successful.
Somebody's Miracle, Phair's fifth album was released in October 2005 and it returned to a more traditional rock sound, mixing the mood of Phair's earlier work with a more mellow sound. The album received mixed reviews and was not a chart success.
Exile in Guyville was reissued on CD, vinyl, and in digital format in June 2008. The special reissue package includes three never-before-released songs from the original recording sessions: "Ant in Alaska," "Say You," and an untitled instrumental. Phair has also completed a new documentary DVD, "Guyville Redux."
In May 2009, Phair released a new song "Faith and Tenderness," sold exclusively at Banana Republic. In recent years Phair has broadened her career by serving as a composer for television dramas. Beginning with the theme song for NBC's The Weber Show she has also worked on the CBS show Swingtown, the CW reboot of 90210, for which she won the 2009 ASCAP award for Top Television Composer, and most recently has been hired on as composer for the USA Network show In Plain Sight.
In July 2010, her official website announced a surprise link to download her new album Funstyle. It contains 11 songs, many of which are experimental compared to most of her earlier released songs. Phair went on tour to promote the album, playing many songs from Guyville and Whip-Smart, along with songs from all throughout her repertoire.
Phair has also been reviewing books, including Keith Richards' Life. Currently, Phair is in the process of writing a new album and novel, as well as continuing TV scoring.