Lucie Silvas has made a platinum selling album (2004’s Breathe In), worked with a variety of major labels, and played on stages alongside music’s top selling artists. In one sense, she seems to have had as successful a career in the immensely competitive music business as one could want. Yet, she’s been stung several times by labels abandoning her after her promising songs never got traction on the charts. So, in a bold, rather risky move, Silvas decided to go independent with Thirty Tigers and record in Nashville for her latest, E.G.O., a mix of rock, pop, jazz and soul influences. It’s her fourth studio album.
This is not the kind of record one associates with Nashville. Silvas draws her inspiration from artists like Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, Carole King, The Jackson Five and The Beach Boys but somehow it seems best to think of her as a modern day Dusty Springfield with shades of Petula Clark. Close listens will reveal the those mentioned and many others too. The album sprawls in several directions. Silvas admits that it’s a glorious mess of sorts. She laughs, “It’s like I’m doing arts & crafts with my career, like I have a sewing machine in the back of my shitty apartment. I’m just piecing and patching together all these things I love making something else altogether.”
Produced by her best friend, Jon Green, who also hails rom England; Silvas and Green were drawn to Nashville partly by its breadth of talented session players. They recruited drummer Fred Eltringham, electric guitarist Derek Wells and multi-instrumentalist Ian Fitchuk to join them. Silvas is an accomplished pianist but that role is rather subdued here in favor of her vocals except on “Just For the Record” where you can hear her classical piano. John Osborne (Brothers Osborne), her husband and master guitarist, appears here as well as on “Kite” and “E.G.O.” He also produced “Just For the Record.” Consider the names that Green has produced and you’ll know right away that, unlike most everything else from Thirty Tigers, this is far afield from an Americana album. Green has produced Kylie Minogue, James Bay, Linkin Park, and Aquilo.
If there’s a theme to the album, it’s Lucie sharing her experience of the self-obsessed culture that we are surrounded by. Her songs put her in the world as an artist where everyone is reaching for success, fame and fortune, and can easily get caught up. “Kite” represents the struggle to keep attention with a significant other. “Girls From California” speaks to vulnerability as does the emotive “Change My Mind,” one of the album’s best tracks. The title “Smoking Your Weed,” may seem to be a rather whimsical song in this mix but it carries the idea that people only want to be around you for what you can offer instead of who you are.
Lucie Silvas’ musical talent is undeniable but what’s more admirable is her stance. Even though she has major support from superstars like Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert. she’s forged her own path. She could have easily taken the commercial country route. Yes, the music is slick and poppy, but there’s power in both her lyrics and deeply felt vocals. Each listen reveals something new.