Canyon Drive is the consistently awesome album from Lisa Marie Claire. Towering harmonies and driving steel guitar ribbons yarn themselves around Lisa Marie Claire’s fascinating pieces, channeling a full sound that mixes folk, pop, rock and hues of country. It’s a splendid, satisfying ride that pushes aside conventional songwriting and sonic blends. Canyon Drive has the listener overlooking a wide swath of genres, but at the end of the ride, Lisa Marie Claire puts herself in the right drivers seat — she’s ready for prime time.
Lisa Marie Claire now calls Los Angeles, California home. Her press materials note that she grew up in Seattle, Washington. I think she carries the Emerald City with her in her music — between the sun kissed Hammond organ keys that induce a lush 60s vibe, the organic, green tones of a clear air embed the music. She’s lofty and the elevated love just showers throughout her work. Of the 11 tracks on Canyon Drive, after a few listens, it occurred to me that my favorites were the standouts that were comprised of the harmonies and the steel guitar. The steel guitar might sound western or country western, but the more I listened to it, it also came across as a murky rain, a quiet downpour.
In “Too Subtle” Lisa Marie Claire’s music bed is a frolicking mix of sixties garb and the Laurel Canyon harmonies. I wrote down in my notes the word ‘wow’ next to the music base. I wanna hear you say it, she sings. Honestly, I felt so ensconced by the music bed in this track, that I wanted to isolate the bops and pops. “Too Subtle” is a definite highlight.
I also really enjoyed the fourth song, “Paper Letter”. Lisa Marie Claire brightens her voice, picks up the tempo with her vocal delivery. She’s hurried, but not rushed. The backing music has a fuller sound, yet again, and the brassy tambourine mixed with the keys, synth and rhythm is addicting. I think my first instinct was to picture this song being sung in a corner coffee house, a small venue. After a few more spins, the song sounded too big for a small stage. I could be mistaken, and perhaps this is too bold of a statement, but “Paper Letter” could be Lisa Marie Claire’s signature song. This song felt the most like the personality I envision her having, her true artistry. After all, aren’t songs a window to the artist’s soul?
Finally, the song “Hallelujah, California” opened up a new cavern of twinkling lights and euphoric sonic sirens. I was only on the run to be free, Lisa Marie Claire sings. This song definitely reminded me of the warm California vibe, inching close to the vibrations you would hear in a Beach Boys or Bay area sound. This must have been the song she wrote driving into the state, or the state-of-mind she’s content on staying. This song speaks many languages of love, and the one that it shares the most is the feeling of being free. You can’t beat that.