In the 1960s and 1970s a group of musicians created a revolution that is still referred to today as the Laurel Canyon Sound. The Mamas & The Papas, Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and more created a sound that changed folk and country rock forever. The draw and appeal of this mountainous neighborhood in Los Angeles stands strong today. The influences are certainly strong in indie musician Lisa Marie Claire’s Canyon Drive. Her 11-song album is in part a tribute to that sound, but what she does to bolster her own sound, her own convergence of pop, country and folk is absolutely tender and juicy.
There were times while listening to the tracks on Canyon Drive that I could decide if Lisa Marie Claire is a modern Dusty Springfield, or if she’s taken the baton from Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). I think what gives the listener such joy and completeness in these songs is her voice. Sure, the backing music, the undercurrents can go from champagne-dipped sparklers, to the meandering steel guitar (pedal steel) paths, but it’s the humble and honest voice coming from this sprite-light figure that makes the songs so divine.
In songs like “High” and “Paper Letter” she mixes up the tones and creates unique blends. What starts to emerge is a songwriter that is writing more about love and diving deeper into her own inner thoughts. In “I Have Loved You” I started to hear the country influence seep its fingers in deeper yet. When you hear this song, the steel guitar re-affirms the country sound, yes, but it also directs the listener even more so into Lisa Marie Claire’s harmonies. It’s a beautiful balance of sounds. The pedal steel pressed against her dainty, delicate voice is magnificent.
I can only surmise that the song, “Hallelujah, California” is about her move to California. She writes in her bio that she grew up in Seattle, Washington and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music career and is hopeful to get her songs placed in film. “Hallelujah, California” is a visually a gorgeous song. Yes, you read that right. This song just flooded a potpourri of colors to my world – many oranges, reds, yellows and deep greens. I think artists are drawn to California because of the ocean, because of the sun. She builds that tone and creates that canvas in this song.
The remaining three tracks on the album are all riveting. My favorite of the trio is the ballad “Ingenue”. Her voice sounds so crisp, the moving music bed feels like a movie unto itself. This is like a soundtrack if ever there was one. The pickup drums and the dancing violin are equally stunning as Lisa Marie Claire’s voice. Dream your dream like a child, she sings. The piano tip toes like a flower tumbling down a path, an organ picks up the slack and lifts the sound even more. She sounds so intimate, so caring. I secretly wanted to live in the sound that is “Ingenue”.
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