By michathomas | February 12th, 2011
Kate Bush and (according to many) Joanna Newsom are certainly part of an elite group of female vocalists. And now, Lia Ices has officially joined their mystical ranks: that of the chanteuse. The word is a coveted descriptor for many female vocalists. The trouble is, few truly are. Even more unsettling is the frequency that this title is bestowed upon those who don’t fit the bill.
And what is the description you ask? When consulting a dictionary, we’re told a chanteuse is a female singer, primarily of a nightclub or cabaret. But somewhere along the line, chanteuse took on a gossamer, truly a woman set apart, evocation. Most cast in the chanteuse lead were enchantresses, and the bewitching seemed to have almost dried up the past few decades.
Then, this January, while most of the country lay under flaky white messes and were forced to remain indoors, Brooklyn-based Lia Ices unleashed a force of nature: the forest-roaming romp, Grown Unknown. For her Jagjaguwar debut, she retreated to the rustic setting of a Vermont cabin (insert Bon Iver reference here). On Grown Unknown she sings of magic, singing for only one person – which she’ll likely be doing little of after this release – and mystical love.
An obvious stagegrabber is the Justin Vernon, nee Bon Iver, backed track “Daphne.” Other notable songs are the album’s title track, “Grown Unknown,” and “Half Life,” but the whole album is winning. The orchestration, the emotive punctuations, the handclaps, even — this music should be a music supervisor or a dancer’s greatest delight.
Catch Lia at SXSW at the Jagjaguwar showcase or on tour beginning mid-March.