Monday, December 7, 2009

On Repeat: Lia Ices

Immediately after hearing "Cymbal, Trumpet and Bell" on the Esopus #13: Nostradamus comp, the versatile alto of Lia Ices (she refuses to disclose her birth name) became one of my favorite contemporary female voices. Her debut, 2008's Necima, features piano-led arrangements augmented with strings, clarinet, and occasional guitar supplementing an alternately frail and supple voice. Some immediate reference points are the Jon Brion-produced version of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, the smoky, sultry feel of latter-day Cat Power, and the frigid (pun not intended), confident vocal timbre of My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden.

While those three are all known for histrionics in their own right, Ices' formal theatre training is evident in her choice of arrangements, familiar (but altogether welcome) chord progressions, and unforgettable vocal melodies. My only real complaint with the album is her over-reliance on a few said progressions, but Necima is a solid record no less. The subtle inflectional details of the gorgeous closer "You Will" recall Joanna Newsom's unique delivery (compare the way both articulate "to", "skin", and "ground") applied to an old jazz standard (the way she sings "Waiting for you..." gives me chills every time) -- it might sound like a completely incongruous combination, but it's one that definitely works. The simple, understated video fits the song's mood perfectly, as well. Hopefully we'll hear more from her in the future.

1 comment:

The Wounded Jukebox said...

I would really love a "Cymbal Trumpet and Bell" mp3, could you post it? Esopus is very stingy with their musics.
Great pick!