Singer-songwriter Lissie, like most of us, dealt with a fair share of personal turmoil during the pandemic, including nursing a heartbreak. The place she did it, however, was different – her very own farm in Iowa, accompanied mostly by her trusty pup – and the forced isolation allowed her to fully feel her pain, then begin to heal from it. She also started the process of writing a new album, which deals with, well, dealing with that pain (and bouncing back from it). Along the way, Carving Canyons became a joint effort with some of today’s best songwriters.
Carving Canyons begins on the (very literal) drive away from a busted-up relationship. “Unravel” picks at the frayed edges of what’s left – “The last time we spoke/I was halfway to California/I was still wearing all of your clothes” – with sorrow welling up in soaring vocals and discordant notes. “Sad,” co-written with rising star Madi Diaz, pulses with resentment and carries an understandable amount of spite with it – “And when you hear this song/I want you to feel sad/Like when you dropped that bomb/Want it to feel like that.” In her interview with Americana Highways, Lissie calls the song and its raw emotion “self-owning in its anger…even if it’s immature,” and she’s right – part of getting over it involves first getting DEEPLY pissed off.
The promised healing does occur. Lead single “Flowers,” written with Bre Kennedy, is a gentle slice of Southern rock that acknowledges the need to feel – “It’s allowed to hurt/I’m allowed to burn/I’m allowed to wonder what you’re doing now” – while hinting at a brighter future – “I can grow my own flowers.” “Unlock the Chains” is a rocker with a bit of fresh perspective – “Everything I thought I knew about what I want, it might not be true.” And the title track, written with Sarah Buxton and Kate York, slowly unfolds with some lovely guitar work from David Levita, focuses on the path from heartbreak to better days – “Pain is just a river forming valleys.”
The road back truly begins, though, when Lissie circles back to those blooming flowers that, in her words, “Literally come from sh!t.” “Yellow Roses,” penned with (and sung with) Nashville ace Natalie Hemby, is a sweet, string-laced ballad that has the singer reemerging from her self-declared (and pandemic-enforced) isolation – “All day she climbed, peeked over the walls.” And the piano- and trumpet-led show of album-wrapper “Midnight” has Lissie testing the waters back out in the world – “My life/Is somewhere out there/I don’t wanna fight it no more” – damaged but wiser, and ready to take on whatever comes next.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Night Moves” – featuring Lissie at her husky-voiced best in this perfect slice of Laurel Canyon-esque pop.
Carving Canyons was produced, recorded and mixed by Curt Schneider and mastered by Dave Kutch. All songs were written by Lissie, with co-writes going to Madi Diaz, Morgan Nagler, Bre Kennedy, Sarah Buxton, Kate York and Natalie Hemby. Additional musicians on the album include Schneider (bass, keys, guitars), David Levita (guitars), Aaron Redfield (drums), Rob Humphreys (drums), Aaron Sterling (drums), David Palmer (drums), Michael Farrell (piano, keys), Patrick Warren (piano, keys), J’Anna Jacoby (violin), Tyler James (trumpet) and Diaz, Nagler, Kennedy, Buxton, York and Hemby (backing vocals).
Go here to order Carving Canyons (out September 16): https://lissie-us.myshopify.com/
Check out tour dates here: https://lissie.com/
To read our interview with Lissie: https://americanahighways.org/2022/09/12/interview-lissie-on-carving-canyons-and-popcorn/