Lissie - Castles
Before Lissie's last album, My Wild West, there was a moment when it seemed we wouldn't be hearing any more from the folk-rocker. A moment of doubt, and a resetting of her life away from California and the big record labels meant some time to think and review. It turns out the freedom that independence gave her has made her more prolific; with Castles her second album in three years.
Having purged herself of the mainstream Lissie also changed how she wrote the album; from good old-fashioned guitar only, to a digital-based approach. An increased prominence of instruments other than the trusty guitar (the opening piano on 'World Away'), brings a growth in the 35-year-olds sound. 'Crazy Girl' has more of an R'n'B beat to it than anything on her previous albums, and there's a confidence to songs like the sparse piano-led 'Blood & Muscle', the rock riffs staccato singing of 'Best Days', and the 80s swagger of 'Boyfriend'. It's 'Love Blows' that really makes a mark: "I'm still the silly girl that's singing / ... / But I'm just gonna say it, what everybody knows / Love blows". It's music with guts.
Seeing an artist this comfortable whilst challenging themselves is rare, and even rarer is to see an artist break free from the record label system so successfully; keep on keeping on Lissie, we've got you.