‘Garage Sale,’ the new album from Carry Illinois, is a testament to the human experience. It’s a tour-de-force of emotion and takes you on an emotional journey with the band. For singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman, losing a bandmate last year was a paralyzing experience, but writing new music gave her hope.
She said, “I took some songwriting workshops about using songwriting as truth-telling” and felt a switch in herself. She said that the class made her realize the importance of writing about her genuine experiences because “that’s the stuff that people really connect to.” To draw on the tragedy the band faced, ‘Garage Sale’ became therapy.
Despite the surrounding circumstances, the album became an expression of hope. The songs life you up rather than depress and each one feels like a new experience. The album has so many different influences from vintage college-rock mettle to a little lush AOR that it’s impossible to get bored. Take “Years to Come,” which plays midway through the album and catches a current of ringing new-wave guitars, marching choral drums, and Brill Building harmonies: It’s a defiant gesture though relatively unadorned.
By partnering with admired producer John Vanderslice, the band took a raw approach, focusing on emotion and instrumental nuance. Lehman described her experience saying, “I think John, immediately when he heard the music, knew making sure the vocals were right up front and the lyrics could be heard was top priority, and made me super confident recording with him.”
But Vanderslice defers credit entirely to the band. He said he mostly tried to stay out of the way and just capture the energy. He even went as far as to say, “The band was so good I didn’t want to impose a production style.”
With top-tier production, raw emotion, and exciting nuanced tracks, Garage Sale is a memorable album about love and loss. It’s a ode to recovery and moving forward — a true inspirational ballad.
Album out: May 12
— Lou Flesh