Lissie - My Wild West

by Shannon Smith

My Wild West is like a punch, filled with raw feeling and power. From Lissie’s raspy, deep, entirely soulful and lyrical performance to the pop-country backing has ensured that this album is not one to be forgotten quickly. However, I would warn that My Wild West works best as a continuous collective listen rather than individual songs – some of the later tracks, when listened to alone, have a more minor role.

Each one of Lissie’s albums have been about a journey in certain respects; Catching A Tiger was mainly driven by a past relationship and Back To Forever was centred around the idea of mortality. My Wild West is no exception. Every song on Lissie’s third album, and first independent release shows a new direction in both her music and her life – her disillusion with this “California showbiz dream”. Listening to My Wild West seemed almost invasive, like reading someone’s personal feelings sprawled through their diary – not that I would not recommend this album.

The titular track Wild West, whilst clearly crafted to be the radio-worthy single of the album, is filled with Lissie’s signature powerful voice – which has created a belter of a tune. Its upbeat and pop influenced-backing helps to create a noteworthy titular track. However, out of the rest of the album’s track list, Wild West does not have quite the same emotive impact that makes Lissie memorable as an artist. The emotive impact of the track is lost, because of the heightened (when compared to the rest of the album) backing track. The track Hero, whilst subtler than Wild West, is more powerful to the listener due to the increased sense of musical build-up and makes more use of Lissie’s voice.

A personal favourite track on this album is Hollywood. This piano ballad on turning away from the search for fame could have been utterly dire but Lissie’s heartfelt and personal lyrics help to produce a stunning track. Lines such as “You broke my heart just because you could” highlight the seemingly heartless nature of Hollywood and are bursting with heart-wrenching emotion. Don’t Give Up On Me and Together Or Apart are also filled with a similar vein of feeling, but from a more personal perspective than regarding the state of Hollywood’s entertainment industry.

Lissie is not one to avoid discussing her own social opinions and this album is no exception to that. Daughters is the stand-out of the album; with its political undertones, it acts as a warrior’s call for the female population. The track was apparently inspired by the 2008 documentary Pray The Devil Back To Hell, which looked at the peace movement “Women of Liberia Mass Action For Peace”. Lissie almost screams out in the pre-chorus

“When it’s not safe to walk these streets Join your hands and sing with me Raise our voices, hear our plea.”

The lyrical battle-cry in addition to the high energy backing track work together to create a memorable track. The connotations of the patriarchal systems holding back women is an interesting addition to the album – and this is clearly a track that has been a product of her creative freedom that this album has been afforded.

I have to applaud Lissie on this album and, from the clearly positive results, her move to independently funding this album. The financial and creative freedom she has created for herself in the artistic process for My Wild West has allowed her to create a convincing and memorable album. This album clearly represents a new stage in Lissie’s musical career, one that is worth the listen!