“I write about my life, and my perspective of the world surrounding me. My songs are more local than global, but the themes are universal,” the Austin-based artist shares.Lehman’s musical experiences began like most, singing and performing in school but it was when she hit college that she really took to the craft, meeting a gifted guitar teacher, engaging in songwriting head on, and finding a community of singer-songwriters that she could connect with and learn from, drawing her deep into the folk music scene.
And those experiences, combined with her keen talent for both songwriting and singing, have led the artist to some of the highest thrones of the Austin music world, seeing her perform on such legendary stages as Antone's, The Cactus Cafe, The Parish, Cheer Up Charlies, and the Mohawk while also having the opportunity to travel and open for Gregory Alan Isakov at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s already recorded a solo EP, performed with The Blackwells, and now finds herself fronting her own collective, Carry Illinois.The band draws from a different palette than Lehman’s more traditional folk leanings, opting for a more indie rock vibe that leans heavily on Americana flavors. Joined by fellow musicians Nick Droz on bass, Rudy Villarreal on drums, and Darwin Smith on guitar, Lehman and company invoke the inspirations of singer-songwriters like Carole King, Brandi Carlisle, and Joni Mitchell while putting their own unique spin to things, delivering five stirring tracks on their debut EP, Siren.
“Weakest Limb” gets things off to a strong start, an ominous and dark tone coloring the track, and the better part of the EP, with solid, thudding drumbeats and a moody guitar line running throughout as Lehman’s voice is haunting, contrasting uniquely with the surprisingly hope-filled lyric at its conclusion. The title track follows hard after, a beat pulsing like a heartbeat opening things up with Lehman’s electronically distorted vocals carrying the track forward. An industrial meets folk arrangement unfolds, distorted elements melding with smooth and soulful strings in an instrumental jam that is at once unsettling and engaging.Lehman’s folk leaning make themselves known on the lighter feeling “Jackson Square,” her vocal soaring above a plucky banjo line and brooding guitar while “Nothing to Despise” brings together the best of both worlds. More banjo fills provide texture throughout the track while Lehman employs more vocal distortion, giving her voice even more texture, as the track layers itself with atmospheric guitar work. “Good Farewell” provides the EP a perfect ending, acoustic guitar and Lehman’s stark voice leading forward, accented by just the right touches from her band. It’s a track that reminds one of the darker tracks brought forward by the Man in Black and that is high praise indeed.
And Carry Illinois’ Siren EP is a collection of songs that more than earns its praise in spades. Lehman and company deliver nuanced, layered textures of sound that honor the traditions of folk, Americana, and rock while combining them all at the same time into a musical gumbo that is good for the soul. Dark, brooding, yet also uplifting, Carry Illinois’ Siren EP is one you won’t want to miss.