Lissie finds a creative rebirth on Castles

castlesAn album can be a truly experiential combination of thoughts, feelings, and emotions from an outpouring of the soul. Often, an artist and the fans may find themselves growing individually, and together at the same time. Such is the case on the new album from pop-rock musician, Lissie. Two years ago, this California artist felt the need to break away from an increasingly stifling West Coast existence and lifestyle. With courage in her heart, she took the first steps which would lead to her latest cathartic, and therapeutic release, Castles.

There's a definite sense of movement within the walls of Castles, and that sense of inertia coupled with moments of raw, intense intimacy. The late Chris Cornell sang, "I'm feeling California, but looking Minnesota." Moving from the sunny coast to a massive farm in Northeastern Iowa, Lissie's album echoes that very sentiment. While she's been learning how to keep bees, grow vegetables, and is in the process of building a self sustaining conservation space, she's translated these elements into her music. The honest and homespun warmth of her native Midwest home combines with the sun-drenched beaches of her past. Just before the move, Lissie found herself in the midst of a songwriting spurt, which lead to one of her most successful albums yet, My Wild West. The fire and drive from this 2016 release propelled her forward into a rejuvenation and revitalization as a songwriter.  Lissie found a new independence in writing the pages of her own musician's rulebook to write, record, and promote the way that she wanted. It's from those seeds that Castles truly began; a fitting title for a new record that focuses on identifying what you want to build a life with, instead of the things you do not want.


The album's title track begins with a soft, subtle piano and an airy atmospheric background. All of the elements that Lissie draws from her emotion and experience swell into a purposeful point as the anthemic chorus crashes in like an epic wave. Her storybook-like narrative reaches out far beyond the castle walls and provides the perfect introduction to the album's entire concept. There is a beautiful duality at work here with creative tension at the heart. Seeming contradictions inhabit the same space, but give rise to its wide palette of sounds and styles. Many of these songs deal with angels and demons in equal measure, often at the same time. There is a conscious effort to bring forth both the good and the bad, which rings throughout much of the album's soundscape. "Blood & Muscle" provides another great example, and begins in the same delicate way. It is stripped down, and each piano keystroke holds a weighted pain beneath each hammer and string. The more intimate down song still captures a strength and vulnerability, while seeming to make peace at its final chord.

The idea of Castles was planted when New York artist Nick Tesoriero visited Lissie. Adding a both a new geographical element and a digital setup, he brought with him a new sense of songwriting freedom. Lissie says, “When I wrote on a guitar I felt limited. It was so much more spontaneous and natural to sit down with someone who would give me a beat and a chord progression on a synthesizer. I started having all these new ideas. I wasn't stuck behind my guitar or waiting for people to show up.”

Lissie broke free of the limitations that she felt when writing exclusively on her guitar. This newfound format gave way to a spark of fresh ideas. She found that her personal struggles became universal experience, and began singing about her hope for all of us.

Joining Lissie on Castles is a cast of old friends like Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses) and familiar faces from My Wild West like Martin Craft, Jim Irvin, Julian Emergy and Curst Schenider. She also enlisted the help of new collaborators like producers AG and Liam Howe. London based Howe (Sneaker Pimps) taught Lissie an important lesson in letting go of her preconceived notions. Through this process she was able to create a cohesive project over an ocean of distance, thus adding one more geographical influence to the final mix. She credits the arrival of AG as a turning point, the first woman who has produced for her and in addition co-wrote songs like the stripped-down "Blood & Muscle". Lissie has a new home and a newly invigorated passion. It's almost like a baptism of sorts, with the waters breathing new life and creativity.

Release: 23rd March 2018, Cooking Vinyl


One Response to “Lissie finds a creative rebirth on Castles”


  1. Lissie finds a creative rebirth on Castles – Live List - 22/03/2018

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