American singer-songwriter Lissie has been a staple of the scene ever since her debut EP in 2009. Having began her career touring with Lenny Kravitz, she has seen her songs not only gain critical acclaim, but also extend into TV and film. Her fifth and latest album Carving Canyons is her first in four years, following the release of a collection of early works last year.
Unravel opens with a slightly uneasy tone, as though something is close to breaking. When the drums kick in, the instrumentation grows with soft strings and building harmonies. It’s a mid-tempo beginning that starts the record on a whimsical note. The following song Sad flips the feeling, having a distinctly 90s feeling. Chugging electric guitars, and a more typical pop structure, leave the impression that – if a little heavier – the song could have been recorded by Hole in their heyday. At times, Lissie recalls legends like Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love in her vocals, which is by no means bad company. On Night Moves, the former comes through, the song sounding like a modern Fleetwood Mac song; powerful and driving.
Bre Kennedy lends her heavenly vocals to the latter half of Flowers, a tune that pulsates with bright analogue synths and atmospheric guitar passages. Title track Carving Cannons features backing from two more strong female singers, Sarah Buxton and Kate York, the pair adding further levels to the already epic song. The album unleashes two more driving tracks, Hearts on Fire and Yellow Roses, before ending on the gorgeous Midnight. On the track, Lissie sings of looking back on her life, ‘for every tear, there’s a tear that dries’. It’s a hopeful finale, that’s lifted by reverb-heavy trumpets and piano.
Carving Canyons doesn’t redefine the folk-pop landscape by any means, but it adds a beautiful selection of tracks to the back catalogue. Lissie proves yet again that she is a fantastic lyricist, and the majority of the instrumentation lends itself to the words, allowing them to be heard loud and clear. Her chosen feature artists elevate the track list, and only empower the already well written songs. Carving Cannons shows that Lissie hasn’t lost her touch.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.