Lissie – ‘Castles’ Review

Artfully curated references see Lissie picking and choosing from the best on her dreamy fourth album

Without much fuss, Elisabeth Corrin Maurus has quietly become one of the most vital vocalists around. She’s in possession of a voice that skips between howling raw emotion and husky confession, an instrument that’s as powerful turned down as it is when the volume is pumped up to a hefty 11. It’s this voice which powers ‘Castles’, the Illinois singer-songwriter’s dreamy fourth album, coming after 2016’s ‘My Wild West’ – as heard and seen on last year’s Twin Peaks reboot, thanks to David Lynch’s longstanding infatuation with the artist.

Despite the link to Lynch’s weird world, ‘Castles’ is much more pop-leaning than that association might suggest. Building from an acoustic base – and the rain-splattered opening ballad ‘World Away’ – she weaves in sparkling, electronic production and heavily layered vocals to produce something bordering on the symphonic.

Artfully curated references see her picking and choosing from the best; the falsetto-led ‘Crazy Girl’ grooves in the same fashion as mid-1990s TLC, while the bare-bones passion of ‘Blood & Muscle’ gets her belting out her demons against stripped-down piano, making you think of Florence and the Machine as well as the kind of brutal break-up that can only be tended to with early Bon Iver records and lots of Malbec. More up-tempo is ‘Best Days’, a propulsive pep-talk in the form of a 1990s Sheryl Crow meets Shania Twain-style guitar country-rocker, while the hypnotic ‘Boyfriend’ could be a long lost off-cut from Fleetwood Mac’s 1980s classic ‘Tango In The Night’.

It’s not just here that the shadow of Stevie Nicks looms large. Lissie’s vocal similarity to the cape-twirling high priestess of AOR is impossible to ignore, especially on the wilfully spooky ‘Meet Me In The Mystery’. Talent borrows, but evidently genius Nicks.