From the first spin of this CD in my player, I knew Mica Lee Williams debut release "Lucid Dreaming High" would be on my regular play list. The quality of songwriting, musicianship, Mica Lee's remarkable voice, and the production quality of this CD distort my mental image of a first release. This disc sounds like years of craft blending rock, folk, blues, alt country and working-finger-to-the-bone road-tested effort. Perhaps Mica Lee has worked harder at her endeavors than most? On to the songs--here are some of my picks:
The dreamy "Wish" includes acoustic guitar with cello and assorted strings blending with thick electric guitar, bass and drums. Mica Lee's voice is immediately revealed as a compelling alloy of pillow-soft to fully fortified as she stretches from a gentle lyric to full vocal acuity.
"Tired" immediately let's you know that Mica Lee can rock it out as well. Her voice takes on a powerful role and her strength of dynamics, punch and staying power are showcased. Ian Kennedy delivers great guitar work--both rhythm and lead--underpinning with the bass and drums.
Sauntering, "Elegant Dancer", serves up a delicate blend of rock and swampy folk undertones. Distorted guitar, fiddle and acoustic guitar combine with harmonica, drums and bass with a spurred vocal lift from Mica Lee.
The Beatles are listed as an influence for this artist. The lyrics of the song, "John Lennon", chronicle Mica Lee's personal interpretation on John Lennon's untimely parting. Beatle-like instrumentation along with a thought provoking lyric delivering a take on how this affected a then 8-year old Mica Lee. Without pretense the music captures the feel of a Lennon song but with the passionate vocal acuity of this songwriter's obvious respect and endearment for Lennon's work. There are two takes of "John Lennon" on the CD. Closing the CD there is a second version that has an even more Beatlesque approach complete with Mellotron and Lennon influenced grand piano. It must have been very cathartic to recreate the feel of Lennon's sound and layer it over the words she wrote.
Floating electric guitar opens the beautiful "Little Boat". The instrumentation and vocal treatment on this song reminds me of the music of the folk-rock group, Pentangle.
The whimsical folk based "Daisyhead" shows the diversity of the her music. Her vocal phrasing reminds me a bit of Kasey Chambers on this song.
Acoustic guitar and Mica Lee's voice open "Fallen Mighty Gods" which progresses from a traditional folk sound to a driven rocker similar in feel to a Pat Benatar composition.
The pretty beginning to "Happy Little Child" allows us to see the softer polished side of Mica Lee's voice. One could imagine spending an entire night listening to her as a solo act accompanied only by her guitar!
"A Life Profound" showcases Mica Lee's voice perhaps better than any other on the disc. Forward in the mix she fits the ear like a glove. Instruments are played with spectacular fit and skill but are diplomatically foreshadowed by her vocal expertise.
As I listen to this disc again after completing this review I realize the depth of skill and passion Mica Lee Williams has poured into this debut release. I urge you to drop by her site at micaleewilliams.com and listen to some samples from this release. You can purchase "Lucid Dreaming High" here. I am hoping Mica Lee books some gigs in Chicago and we Midwesterners have the opportunity to hear her perform live. I envy those in San Francisco who can listen to her regularly at gigs around the Bay area--you are very fortunate people.