Following on from her successful 2016 release of My Wild West, Lissie will be releasing her second independent studio album, Castles, on Fri 23 March.

The album opens with World Away; the first sound you hear is of rain falling. It is effective in setting the vibe of this album; with a new sense of lyrical maturity, there is something melancholic, nostalgic, even haunted. However, Castles might have benefitted from a stronger opening song.

This album is remarkable for the departure from Lissie’s usual sound; there is a lot more of a lower register, even some falsetto, which creates a dramatic contrast. Castles is also thematic for the continuing fairytale references; pulling swords from stones, castles, the idea of building Castles on sand that eventually floats away.

Castles, the title track of the album, has a sense of optimism that is not necessarily echoed throughout the whole of the record; however, it would have made a stronger opening than World Away.

By the time we get to Feels Good, there is a fragment of what Lissie does perhaps best of all; play live. (Her back catalogue is seemingly made to be played live.) But the lyrics of this song are notable in a way that they have not been before; is this song addressed to someone? There is also a sparsity in music that the rest of the album lacks; guitar, a little bit of drums, and finger clicking. This song is made to be played live.

Boyfriend has a dreamy quality echoed by the rest of the album-a tender romance, an ode to home. The theme of this song is also more expansive than the slightly simplistic themes of other songs; the lyrics suggests wanting a man, not a lover, not a boyfriend.

Castles is far more conceptual than previous albums; the language of fairytales is used throughout, and is what brings the album together in a fuller sense. There the ‘house built on the sand’, the ‘Castles’ of the title track, wanting to meet in ‘The Hollow’. This is dream rock, not the cohesion of genres that make up her other works. Although it adds to the story-telling quality of the album, it would work far better if there was less musical sound, and more ‘voice’.

Peace is a beautiful song on opening. Yet it leaves a sense of sadness behind once finished.

Meet Me In The Mystery is the final song; it is one of the better songs, yet it’s not optimistic. It’s Lissie at her most authentic self, the character of someone who needs to tell a story, who needs to write songs.

I was left feeling a little bit disappointed by this album; it wasn’t what I expected, yet I am curious as to how it would be played in concert.

Castles by Lissie is available now.

www.lissie.com