Illustration by Avril Kelly
If I lived alone in a dark stone castle, I would make it a priority to listen to Lia Ices. Her notes would float around the turrets and echo through the gaps in the brickwork. You would be able to hear her singing, bringing ‘him’ closer from the meadows and the seas. The strings gently touching the heart, and increasing the speed of the hoofs galloping at an increasingly quickening pace. So beautifully feverish is this music.
As it is, I live in a basement flat in Bristol. Although I did work in a Tudor castle whilst at university and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t stand at the top, look to sea, hair flaying behind me, and feel a certain magic. I’m sure I looked ridiculous/a mess, but there is an at oneness that comes with looking out to the infinity of the sea from up high, it’s filled with an ambition and truth. Also a stark contrast to the steps and blades of tall grass (weeds), I look at from my desk. I’m not implying you need to own a grand sort of graded building to listen to Lia Ices, but her voice is so much more than something to whack on the karaoke on a saturday night, or for a little house shindig. I often get accused of putting on depressing music when people come round to the basement flat, but alas, they are mistaken! But so too am I. This music is not depressing, it is special, not for groups to revel in, red wine tipping on my (cream) carpets. Oh no, this is for wafting.
The light notes mix with the heavy use of strings to delicious effect. Classically trained, a graduate of New York’s Tisch School of the Arts, Ices uses her voice together with the instruments with utter ease. A combination of Tori Amos, Enya, Regina Spektor and Sia. The instruments, her voice inclusive, flit between jumpy, feisty to explosions of streaming notes. She has elements of Joni Mitchell to her, filled to the brim with emotion and captivating. New Myth has an almost military sound to it, with trumpets blowing. Ice Wine stops and starts with strings, before unleashing with a ratter of a drum. She has one duet, Daphne, with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whom I could not think of a better artist for her to be paired with. Their voices together are intensely hypnotic.
The whole album sounds as if it was born in an enchanted forest. A location removed from the evils of the world. The sacred place, where the queen fairy lives in fantasy books. With 70s hinting, billowing sleeves, Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac, joined, it’s an album of true quality. Lia Ices album, Grown Unknown, is out now on Jagjauwar.