Lissie – Castles (Album Review)

Love holds the power to both create and destroy, and no one knows this fact better than Lissie. Poised to tell you her deeply-candid story on Castles, the album arrives this Friday, March 23, 2018, thanks to Lionboy/Thirty Tigers.

Singer-Songwriter Lissie, born Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, may have taken to the stage by the age of nine, but her official start in music came in 2010 with the release of her debut album, Catching a Tiger, an apt description of finding success in the music industry. Fortunately, Lissie has crafted an impressive career for herself – and caught that proverbial feline – with album’s like 2013’s Back to Forever and 2016’s My Wild West. She has even developed a reputation for her phenomenal covers, which pay homage to the truly eclectic likes of Lady Gaga (“Bad Romance”), Metallica (“Nothing Else Matters”), Kid Cudi (“Pursuit of Happiness”), Fleetwood Mac (“Go Your Own Way”), and Danzig (“Mother”), plus many more.

Her astoundingly diverse career has a myriad of accolades and noteworthy resume boosters, ranging from being featured on TV (House, Justified, Twin Peaks) and in film (Won’t Back Down 2012, Paranoia 2013) to being selected as a VH1 You Oughta Know Artist, placing her among the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Ed Sheeran. Lissie has shared stages with the likes of Tom Petty and Lenny Kravitz, collaborated with Bill Reynolds of Band of Horses, and a Deadmau5 remix of her track “The Longest Road” was nominated for a Grammy. Not one to sit around wasting her spare time (what’s that?), she’s also been featured on Snow Patrol’s Fallen Empires, Robbie Williams’ Take the Crown, and a-ha’s MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice.

With the sensual grit of Lady Gaga, soul-bearing of Christina Perri, the languid caress of Lana Del Rey, the gentle spirit of Stevie Nicks, and so very much more, Lissie is a woman on fire, musically speaking. Dipping her toes into Pop, Folk, Country, and beyond, Lissie weaves a lucky thirteen tales on her latest offering, her fourth full-length release, Castles. Preceding the release of the collection, she made a huge lifestyle change and moved from Southern California to a massive farm in Northeastern Iowa, escaping the dog-eat-dog world in favor of keeping bees, growing vegetables, and building a self-sustaining retreat. The end result is a gentle influence on Castles, a collection that oft compares the shore to the heartland, the sand to the dirt, and embraces the best of both worlds to create its own unique geography.

Castles begins with the gentle patter of rain, a piano, and Lissie’s hypnotizing vocals on the introductory note of “World Away.” Her sultry, fine-wine vocals weave around the funky fun of “Crazy Girl,” before the gentle hip-sway of “Castles” builds an empire in the name of love (“I’d live and die for love alone”). The heartfelt grit of the soaring “Blood & Muscle” begs for a tried-and-true love, and, like the bulk of Castles, is anchored in Lissie’s flawless vocals and splendid piano accompaniments alongside her minimalistic lyrical poetry.

The gentle Country-tinge to “Best Days” celebrates the good times in life, while bathing in the California sunshine and surf. Keeping her eyes on the prize, Lissie dips her toes into the noir vibe of “Feels Good,” an ironically delicious sound that is a bittersweet ode to a lover who never listens and definitely does not learn. Next, she roams the heartlands in “Boyfriend,” where visual metaphors of the shore versus the plains weave a tale that speaks of the search for a real man; the end result is a sweeping number that is fully infectious and promises that this lady appreciates a hard-working cowboy over any lackadaisical surfer dude.

With its subtle electronic beats, “Somewhere” demands a choir of voices to sing along to the melody, while Lissie promises that she is still the silly girl that is singing, despite some darker sass, and the fact that “Love Blows.” Meanwhile, the gentle sway of the cinematic “What Am I Gonna Do” ponders what it would feel like to actually move on and find happiness.

The meandering guitar-work and gentle beat of “Peace” create a serenity that starts in the ears and expands toward the heart, while the gritty “Sand” goes a little bluesier and wonders if someday we can laugh about the loss of a dream. Ultimately, the atmospheric, glittering “Meet Me In The Mystery” allows Lissie to soar before she slowly fades into the ether, concluding a beautifully sincere collection.

Castles is, therefore, a truly organic album that unfolds like a diary, meandering through the genuine thoughts inside Lissie’s open-book of a heart. While everything she does is steeped in the stellar musicianship and candid serenity of Folk, Lissie explores genres with an ease that never feels forced or intentionally experimental; rather, she is a singer-songwriter who refuses to be pigeon-holed. Comparisons to everyone from Stevie Nicks to Lana Del Rey, to Christina Perri, are possible for this artist who can soar, offer up an entirely sassy grit, and do it all while baring her soul without limitations. With minimalistic poetry of the heartfelt and frank brand, as well as the ability to embrace any style of music set before her, Lissie proves that she is a woman who lives and breathes her craft, and that, my friends, is truly refreshing. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Lissie’s Castles 5 of 5 stars.

Tour Dates:
May 2 /// Los Angeles /// Teragram Ballroom
May 3 /// San Francisco, CA /// The Independent
May 6 /// Portland, OR /// Doug Fir Lounge
May 7 /// Seattle, WA /// Crocodile Café
May 8 /// Vancouver, BC /// Imperial
May 16 /// Toronto, ON /// Adelaide Hall
May 17 /// Ann Arbor, MI /// The Ark
May 18 /// Evanston, IL /// SPACE
May 20 /// Millvale, PA /// Mr. Smalls Theatre
May 22 /// Cambridge, MA /// The Sinclair
May 23 /// New York, NY /// Bowery Ballroom
May 25 /// Philadelphia, PA /// World Café Live
May 26 /// Washington, DC /// 9:30 Club
June 2 /// Rock Island, IL /// Laura’s Legacy
June 7 /// Manchester, TN /// Bonnaroo

Purchase Castles:
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    • I can see that, actually. Both ladies are immensely talented and are decidedly underrated. Fortunately Sia is finally getting some attention, so hopefully Lissie will too – in good time.

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