Sometimes getting far away from the pop-making machine frees an artist to create the music closest to her heart. That seems to be the case on Lissie’s third record: independently released, deeply felt, and cloaked in melancholy. Edging back toward her singer-songwriter roots, she relies on a leaner guitar-driven sound. The heartache built into her bluesy voice adds plenty of soul to the clear-eyed songs about relationships and searching for one’s place in the world. The Illinois native’s experience living in the Los Angeles area (she’s moved away) informs a number of tracks; she sings of dislocation in “Wild West” (“Slip and fall if I take one more step”), while “Hollywood” is burdened with disillusion from broken dreams (who knew?). As a songwriter, she continues to have a feel for big, hooky choruses (“Don’t You Give Up on Me”), as well as a tendency to go too broad (“Daughters”). The most sharply etched songs, like “Go for a Walk” (“I want to feel my life”), reveal a singer finding herself.
ESSENTIAL “Wild West”