Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Lia Ices received recognition and a reputation both for her expansive take on folk and her cuttingly sweet voice. Grown Unknown, her second album, is another vehicle for highlighting Ices’ ghostly melodies and nimble wordplay. As strong and alluring as she may be, however, the album is a straightforward waltz through Bon Iver territory. (Justin Vernon actually shows up for a duet on “Daphne,” one of the album’s best songs.) Grown Unknown’s nine songs offer off-kilter, minimalist folk music with “percussion,” strings and the odd blip or atonal run.
Brooklyn avant songbird breaks out From her washed-out publicity photos to her floating, ethereal music, Lia Ices comes off like a ghost on her second album and Jagjaguwar debut, Grown Unknown. “Oh, you know I need your mystic mind,” she sings on catchy, spare opener, “Love is Won,” but it’s obvious that the appeal here, the reason any fan of Cat Power or Feist needs this record, is hers. Ices wrote this beautiful collection of songs far from her Brooklyn home in a snowy Vermont cabin, similar to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (his cabin was in Wisconsin), her labelmate and collaborator on one of Grown Unknown’s standouts, “Daphne.
It's been more than two years since Brooklyn singer-songwriter Lia Ices let her debut record, the frail Necima, slip quietly into the world. She's stepped up a notch or two since, inking a deal with indie-rock behemoths Jagjaguwar and recruiting Justin Vernon to provide a guest vocal turn on this album's second track, "Daphne". There's also a more pliable approach this time around, with Ices subtly contorting her core sound, taciturn balladry, to fold in meatier bursts of guitar and percussion.
"Love Is Won" starts with soft but clear singing, sometimes in harmony, nice punchy drums, piano, and keyboard; something about it feels like it's from a much less fusty 1972, with a guitar part sounding like nothing so much as a horn blast. With that as a tone setter, Grown Unknown explores a kind of lost elegance: it's half drowned-in-gorgeous-reverb country of the kind Gram Parsons could nod sagely at, half stately post-'60s rock & roll as elegant mood music via the Band rather than Roxy Music. When moments like the guitar snarls and bigger drums kick in on "Daphne" the feeling is almost like that of orchestral shading, something that lends heft without being central.
LIA ICES plays the Drake on Tuesday (April 5). See listing. Rating: NNN Lia Ices has a beautiful voice and an ethereal delivery, enhanced by the cathedral-sized reverb she adds to it. On Ice Wine and others, choirs of "oohs" sing backups while strings weave dramatic spells. By never taking her ….
It’s an understatement to say that Lia Ices’s voice is her greatest strength. Instead, let’s call it a force of nature. It’s got power when it needs it, size, nuance, and an aching sweetness that permeates all of her songs. If there’s a grace to the quietly building songs on Grown Unknown, then it flows out of her voice and into the instrumentation, and not the other way around.
An album of fragility and ethereality to relax into whenever stress levels peak. Mike Diver 2011 A product of New York’s Tisch School of the Arts, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Lia Ices is a talent worthy of comparison to The xx. Both have roots in studied composition, with the Mercury winners first exploring their craft while at London’s Elliott School; and both now create music that is restrained and regal, all shadows and glass, fragility and ethereality.