My Wild West


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My Wild West Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The possessive in the title of Lissie's third album is telling: no matter how often this echoes the slow, narcotic sway of Lana Del Rey, this California is conjured by Illinois native Lissie, an adult-alternative singer/songwriter who has slowly crept away from the folk roots she displayed on her 2010 debut, Catching a Tiger. Back then, she was bright and earnest and also bold, her burnished vocals had the grit in the gloss, a combination that amounted to a U.K. hit and set the stage for 2013's Back to Forever. With the help of producer Jacknife Lee, Lissie embraced a crossover that never came, so the moodiness of 2016's My Wild West reads as something of a retreat: she didn't harness the stars, so she's turning inward. At first, My Wild West feels as if Lissie is borrowing too many clothes from Lana Del Rey, choosing to write about the sad sunsets and tarnished dreams of Hollywood, a borrowing that seems blatant only with the blessing of distance. As the record plays, the melancholy tides of Lissie's tunes are quite alluring, a testament to her sense of craft, a gift that bears a double edge. She's savvy enough to recognize the prevailing pop trends -- it's not a bad idea to surf in LDR's wake -- and she's sharp enough to make it not seem like she's crassly co-opting a craze. As good as these moody moments are, My Wild West is best once the darkness settles, and Lissie offers nicely sculpted miniatures that feel alternately comforting and bruised, with the human touches Lana Del Rey works so hard to remove from her own music.

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