Music

'Other Girls' Demonstrates Lillie Mae's Creative and Musical Ingenuity

Photo: Misael Arriaga / Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Produced by David Cobb, Other Girls is the album that will garner Americana/alt-country artist Lillie Mae the attention she richly deserves.

Other Girls
Lillie Mae

Third Man

16 August 2019

Lillie Mae is tenacious, and that drive is propelling her stardom skyward. First appearing as part of the family band Jypsi, then performing as a back-up musician for Jack White, Lillie Mae's career has carved a unique and definitive position within the alt-country scene. But as a solo artist and with the release of her sophomore album, Other Girls, Lillie Mae has continued to cultivate her musical identity. Released from Third Man Records and produced by David Cobb, Other Girls is the album that will garner Lillie Mae the attention she deserves.

The LP's lead single, "You've Got Other Girls for That" finds country-inspired vocals and lyrics while the instrumentation provides a more rasping and electric timbre. The lyrics drip with betrayal and aggravation over a womanizing lover. Unlike the archetypical country song, Lillie Mae refuses to wallow in the hapless victim identity. Instead, she demonstrates full awareness of the philandering but then spurns the lover when she asserts, "I ain't your baby / Even though I thought I'd be / And it ain't like you, babe, to know me well / My reality is spoiled / Purity expired." Lillie Mae's disapproval is reinforced by the cacophonous instrumentation representing the antagonism and romantic discord.

Lillie Mae maintains an unapologetic sense of empowerment despite her lover's dalliances. As in "You've Got Other Girls for That" and throughout Other Girls, Lillie Mae doesn't ask permission to revel in her strength. In "I Came for the Band (For Show)" she bucks the stereotype illustrating women in music as merely groupies or musicians' girlfriends. Her depiction of women's musical and creative agency is especially apparent when she sings, "I came here for me / I came for the band." "Didn't I" reveals Lillie Mae admonishing herself for repeating mistakes. But the singer refuses to welter and fade. Rather, she accepts accountability and attains solace in her inability "to mend, that never mends". When considering these tracks as pieces to Other Girls' whole, the narrative structure centralizes the importance of personal growth and self-awareness.

Lillie Mae's spin on country music instrumentation and vocalization is infectious. "Blue Heart" hooks the listener in the first five seconds as her nasal yodel is sublimely imperfect and fractured. Her vocal frailty reflects the vulnerability caused by heartache as imagined on the track. Written as a waltz in three-four time, the track summons the specters of Patsy Cline or Wanda Jackson while maintaining Lillie Mae's individuality. In the following, "How Many Times", Lillie Mae's vocals ascend as a twangy guitar steadily plucks a counterpoint, an echo of the singer's lamentations. The conversation between voice and instrument engenders the image of a stuttering and stagnant conversation, with both sides resigning to their distant corners. Yet, it is Lillie Mae's vocal strength that exorcises the pain and repositions her as the victor.

Lillie Mae's ability to strike multiple emotions in a singular track is evident in Other Girls' standout, "Golden Year". She was inspired to write the song after leaving Refuge in Appleton, Wisconsin, a space for artists and musicians to develop their work and sense of self while residing in a monastery. On the last day of her golden year, Lillie Mae recalls hearing the "chapel that seemed to be Angels singing. And they sang the whole song to me, and the words flew out faster than I could find a pen in the office." Endowed with serpentine guitar riffs and jangly percussion, Lillie Mae chants and sings non-lexical notes to create an ethereal energy. Here, Lillie Mae musically captures the fear and beauty typically associated with angelic entities.

Whereas Lillie Mae may have seen her experience at Refuge as her golden year's culmination, the release of Other Girls positions her to have another year of rocketing success and acclaim. It is too easy to compare Lillie Mae to other alt-country crossover artists hence Other Girls' purpose is to demonstrate Lillie Mae's creative and musical ingenuity.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.