True to the ever-present dichotomies that serve as a source of inspiration for her, Lia Ices' emotionally driven and experimental pop music is both avant-garde and timeless. A natural yet refined grace permeates her work: she is a piano herself. Dancing on a finely crafted line between the percussive qualities of her instrument, and the melodic elements within the rhythm of her voice, Ices' music reveals itself as epiphany. With such overt elegance as if from a bygone era, listening to her songs inspires a psychic time slip, and its hard to know if you're wading in the warmest of memories or awed by the invention and glow of new surroundings.
The album starts with an inviting whisper on stand-out track "Love is Won", as Ices' vocals "Oh you know I need your mystic mind" are accompanied by solo piano. Less than a minute in, we start to catch a glimpse at the depths of the record as we find ourselves, all of a sudden, in the midst of a swaying, swaggering down tempo soul, punctuated by bass and drum interplay.
The quiet moments are very quiet, and the space within them is palpable. On "Lilac," a single voice occupies the intimate yet expansive space generated by sparse acoustic guitar and bass. Such a delicate balance is struck that when slight brushwork enters, its impact is surprisingly startling. The warm directness is perhaps best exemplified in a moment of stand out vocals as Ices sings beseechingly, "For only you, I sing for only you, I sing." Ices' voice floats and flutters around you, like the leaves from trees on a fleeting fall day, and the instrumentation matches that subtle dynamism. Grown Unknown is a walk in the park on a day of carnival, the most beautiful day so far this year.
Appearing as a guest vocalist for "Daphne," the only duet on the album, is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The magic generated by Ices' and Vernon's voices together is quite simply a powerful thing. Enjoy.
'Grown Unknown' was recorded at The Clubhouse, Rhinebeck, NY, and mixed at Rare Book Room, NY, NY.
released January 25, 2011
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