The story isn’t new – an artist packs their bags, fills a car and drives to make a new life in California. What is new and what can’t be replicated is the resilience and contentment in the journey. Newcomer Lisa Marie Claire, a Seattle to Los Angeles sojourner, brings to life a personal growth journey in her album Canyon Drive. It’s not enough that she uses whimsical musical bedrocks, and it’s not nearly enough that her songs are brimming with harmonies. It’s not enough – it’s more than enough.
It’s a war without a winning side, sings the wide-eyed sounding Lisa Marie Claire in the opening song, “Byronic Hero (Navigator)”. You find out you can never run too far, she continues. I really like the tones her voice conveys. In many ways, it’s like being in a car ride, and the blinding sunlight strikes through the windows, a world of possibilities await. Why show your colors now, Lisa Marie Claire sings. I felt like this song is a great jumping off point, a strong start.
In the next crop of songs, “Too Subtle”, “High” and “Paper Letter”, Lisa Marie Claire flows along with golden harmonies. She’s very indie, but not too hipster. I felt like the music beds are sparkling, and clever. When you close your eyes and listen to her voice in these tracks, she meets at the crossroads between Regina Specktor and The Watson Twins. In “High” she sings, you just took what you could from me. This line made me stop and think about it for a bit. I wondered about the hurt in her heart – she evokes such a whirlwind of sounds in the music, a rousing dreamy/shoestring pop sound. I felt like she was past it, like she overpowered it. She gained from it.
“I Have Loved You” features a sleepy, sleek country-tinted steel guitar. It’s at this point in the album that Lisa Marie Claire peels back another layer, another onion peel to her songwriting. The twangy, resonating instrument has always left me with the tone of a restless romanticism. The sound sweeps through the song, like a grand gesture. I think at this point my mind rambled into the arena of old Hollywood meets manifest destiny. “I Have Loved You” gives so much more of Lisa Marie Claire’s inner strength.
The last chunk of songs, “Baby Why Don’t You”, “Hallelujah, California”, “Words Of a Younger Self”, “Scouser”, “Ingenue” and “God My Laugh” rivals the previous half of songs in terms of creativity. Truth be told, I had to Google what ‘scouser’ means (it means a person from Liverpool, England). “Scouser” is fun to hum along, I loved the tempo.
You can’t go wrong with Lisa Marie Claire’s Canyon Drive. Seattle, Los Angeles, Liverpool or wherever – she’s arrived. She’s fearless with her melodies and tickles the ivories with grace and curious arrangements. She has a natural compassion, an instant rapport with her listeners. We feel her pursuits and we grip just as tight when she escapes into a new dreamscape. Canyon Drive is excellent.