Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lia Ices - Grown Unknown (Jagjaguwar)

A beautiful lone female voice rings to signal in Lia Ices’ Second full length album ‘Grown Unknown’, sure there are plenty of golden voiced female singer-songwriters out there. However, once the sighing counter harmony comes fluttering out of the speakers as the first track ‘Love Is Won’ progresses, it becomes clear this is something worth paying attention to.

Lia’s 2008 debut ‘Necima’ was released on small label Rare Book Room records, so this is the first chance many UK listeners will be able to experience her music as this release comes our through the excellent JagJaguwar imprint.

Stand out track ‘Daphne’ slowly builds up out of a standard finger picked folk song into something quite heart melting as strings swell and counter harmonies build up. Around the half way mark an interruption of swirling noise leads to a stomping piano hook that makes you think the album’s about to go all Kate Bush, which would be entirely welcome. Though this is not the case, the suitably epic vocal swells provided by Justin Vernon (yes, him again) that lead us to the end of the track are suitably compelling.

The track ‘Grown unknown’ begins with a fantastic rhythmic hand-clapped intro that also promises an exciting break from the album’s grounding in slow balladry, but once again the track does not really deliver the Feist like pop promise that the intro sets us up for, merely moving into a pleasant but repetitive guitar pattern doesn’t really lead anywhere but to repeat of the intro that proves less exciting when used again as a chorus.

Overall the album offers a pleasant but slightly underwhelming experience. Some genuinely excellent ideas and songwriting give the impression that once Lia develops the more adventurous ideas that sprinkle this album she could be unveiling an avant-garde pop genius as her writing progresses with future releases.

Words : Michael Woods

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