In a story not dissimilar to Jagjaguwar label-mate Justin Vernon (you’d know him best as Bon Iver), Lia Ices sequestered herself in an isolated cabin in the Vermont woods to record her second coming, and just like Vernon, she walked away with a rich and wildly insightful album.
The final product, Grown Unknown, is a short but sweet thirty-eight minute tapestry that balances sparse sounds with bundles of emotion. It’s not necessarily quiet, but it’s definitely introspective; an interesting and at times arresting take on the ever-familiar narrative of lovelorn romanticism.
The greatest achievement with Grown Unknown is by far Ices’ greatest asset; her voice. Supple, soft, at times dizzying and all-round wildly feminine, her vocals invoke some sort of mystical, almost ethereal qualities, as if dancing in the negative space of an already sparse landscape. The calibre of her vocals is such that she is, surely, destined to become one of the best of her time.
Tonally, the album doesn’t stray too far from it’s fraught, lo-fi perspective; too much more and it might have edged on dull, but with only nine tracks it manages perpetuate relevance and interest within itself. The page-turning diversity, if any, is delivered by the instrumentals, which vary from tinkering chimes and pianos to soft percussion to angular strings; surely different with each song, and thinly layered to offer a texture that cleverly juxtaposes Ices’ melodic vocals.
Key tracks include the ‘Ice Wine’, ‘Little Marriage’ and ‘Daphne’ (featuring guest vocals by Justin Vernon).
All in all, Lia Ice is one chanteuse to keep an ear out for. With a penchant for humble elegance and (sigh) that voice, one can only assume great things will follow.
Review Score: 8/10