It was Lissie’s third album, My Wild West, that brought the Illinois singer to AMBY’s attention. Tracks like the resolute Daughter, the dynamic Stay and the Fleetwood Mac stylings that drift amidst Don’t You Give up on Me prompted an obsessive trawl through her back catalogue revealing even more shimmering west coast influences, enhanced by a more rootsy perspective that lent her material a pleasing authenticity.
Listen again to this album though and you’ll also find the foundations that new single Blood and Muscle has been built upon. Hollywood and Wild West possessed a pleasing integrity about them, allowing the focus to fall utterly on Lissie’s thrilling vocal range, which glides effortlessly between subtle soul-searching and fervent fearlessness and it is these qualities that emerge once again on Blood and Muscle. If first single Boyfriend, taken from the forthcoming album Castles, released on 23rd March 2018, was closer to the California dream pop of Lana Del Rey, then Blood and Muscle raises the bar to another level, allowing Lissie’s vocals to soar, as she summons the strength to “laugh at the dark.” Blood And Muscle serves as a perfect distillation of the spirit of self-determination that courses through all of the new album. No longer willing to stand back and cede her power to others, Lissie is unafraid to finally, and boldly state her dreams and desires: “I want a love that’s made of blood and muscle.”
This song and the album that it comes from demonstrate a powerful combination of heartfelt introspection and contemporary dream-pop, written predominantly from Lissie’s new home in northeast Iowa. Castles also represents a spiritual, as well as musical development: it’s a portrait of an artist who has always been on the move and has not always been that fond of where she’s been. Her disenchanted departure from Los Angeles can be heard in Hollywood when she sings, “You broke my heart just like I knew you would,” but she now appears to be creating a sense of permanency on her Iowan home; a chance to catch her breath and reflect. Castles will mark the return of a singular voice in the modern American scene when it’s released in the spring and in the meantime, immerse yourself in the sublime beauty of Blood and Muscle.
Castles is out 23rd March 2018 and will be followed by the following live dates in the UK.
6th April 2018 Oran Mor Glasgow
8th April 2018 Gorilla Manchester
10th April 2018 Omeara London
Follow updates from Lissie here.
Review by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto