Lissie – Castles

Midwestern singer-songwriter Lissie reaches new depths in her writing and singing, fully embraces her roots and expands sonically on her fourth LP, Castles. The first thing that usually draws attention is Lissie’s incredible vocal range that has oftentimes been compared to Stevie Nicks. Her voice is in top condition and displays her stunning control in album highlight “Blood and Muscle.” On her songwriting, Lissie recently addressed the new depth found in her songwriting now that she is in her mid-thirties. She had this to say while performing Live & Direct at WYEP:

“Now I’m searching for more meaning and depth in my purpose and relationships. There’s a lot of romance on this album. My Wild West kind of kicked it off… I’m on a personal discovery (laughs). I’m on a journey, an existential journey. I feel like I focus more on what I do want, rather than what I don’t want; and what I do like rather than what I don’t like. There’s a contradiction on this album of stating powerfully those things, but also I’m on the verge of breaking at the same time. There is something more personal in that.”

The Rock Island, Illinois native packed up and moved from Ojai, California to a 50 acre Iowa farm in 2015. After experiencing a complicated relationship with the Midwest and moving from Denver, to Los Angeles and then to Ojai, she realized she missed her home; the solitude it brings and the values instilled in those who were raised there. Ironically in demoing the new songs in her new country home brought more pop and experimentation to her music than ever before. She put aside her acoustic guitar and set up a laptop in her studio where she wrote to beats and synth tracks. After the demos were sent to the various studios she was working with, some of those electronic elements remained on songs like “Boyfriend” and “Crazy Girl.” At one point, maybe in reference to commercial aspirations in her career, Lissie claims she just “wanted to be Madonna.” With a move to her farm in Iowa, it’s pretty clear her priorities have shifted in terms of finding her own happiness and that feeling translates quite well on Castles. 

- Cindy Howes (Evening Mix)