On the Warming Sounds of Lia Ices

01/19/2011 4:01 AM |

Lia Ices

Grown Unknown


When Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon joined forces with Kanye on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the main attraction was the unlikeliness of the whole situation; when Vernon lends a hand on Lia Ices’ string-laden “Daphne,” it seems nothing but natural, putting the focus instead on how the song turns inward once Vernon enters at the signal of sparse but heavy drums. It’s the only time that vocal duties are shared on Grown Unknown, Ices’ Jagjaguwar debut, playing into the album’s acute intimacy. “For only you, I sing for only you, I sing,” Ices repeats. And boy does she. Her voice is the voice of Christmas carols: crystal clear and quietly powerful, aligning with a matured Joanna Newsom, minus the tics, over piano, quiet guitar, and occasional percussive quirks—what sounds like a ballerina jewelry box and muffled firecrackers. Turning away from sweeping melodies gives the sensation that we’re looking at a zoomed-in snapshot: Everything is very still, very deliberate, and very