Best Albums of 2011: #8

Lia Ices - Grown Unknown

Every once and a while an album will come along that revives my faith in the traditional singer-songwriter. I understand that a girl singing and strumming an acoustic guitar isn't exactly everyone's cup of tea these days, but among new releases from crowd-favorites like Feist, Lia Ices easily stood out as a unique voice in the genre. Grown Unknown is only her sophomore album, but it already sounds like a mature musical statement from the young artist.

Somber and solitude -- Grown Unknown was the perfect winter album for early 2011. Sparse instrumentation surround Ices' chilling vocals, but every bit of it purposeful and important. As much as a quiet album like this one can, Grown Unknown managed to surprise me with each track. Whether its the hand claps in the title track, the string flourishes in "Ice Wine", or the guest spot by Justin Vernon in "Daphne", the album seemed to offer compelling production choices at every turn. The problem with lists like these is that its so easy to forget about last January -- especially a quiet album like this one. Even still, Lia Ices' voice struck a chord with me that kept me returning to the album over and over throughout the course of the entire year.

Best Tracks: "Daphne", "Grown Unknown"

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