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After leaving the Quad Cities area for the fast-paced lifestyle in Los Angeles, Folk-style musician Lissie discovered an Iowa farm was better for her soul than the fast lanes of Southern California.

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Lissie’s startin' to make the most of her life in Iowa.

Once a major label songwriter living on the coast of California, this Illinois native traded Pacific Ocean sunsets for summer nights surrounded by corn fields, buying in 2016 10 acres and a farmhouse in rural northeastern Iowa.

She spends her free time gardening vegetables and sunflowers, planning for the day she’ll add a handful of farm animals to her land.

“My version of the country and living in the country now came from a novel and romanticism thing,” Lissie, full name Elisabeth Maurus, explained. “I was exposed to it but it wasn’t my reality so I'm still kind of in awe of that lifestyle.”

Still … there’s one incredibly Iowan thing she didn’t experience until this week.

“This is really my first Iowa State Fair,” Lissie, 35, said.

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The independent songwriter played the Bud Light stage Sunday night, her first appearance in Iowa’s capital city since moving to the Hawkeye state.

Lissie played a booming 90-minute set of guitar-driven storytelling in support of her new album, “Castles." It’s a somber album, the singer explained, chronicling the end of a year-and-a-half relationship.

It’s a nuanced breakup record, focusing not solely on emotional despair or triumph.

A song like the spine-chilling piano ballad “Blood & Muscle” shows Lissie declaring “I want a love that's brave, can take my tears,” while on the soulful title track she sings, ‘Wouldn't it be good if we could rule together? Love the way we should, castles.”

Lissie released the album in March, a follow-up to 2016’s “My Wild West.”

From the archives: Why one musician escaped California for life on an Iowa farm

“The way I'm able to process these different experiences and chunks and chapters in my life is to write songs,” she said. “So much of ‘Castles,’ almost all of it, is just about all the different angles of this relationship — from the sadness to the anger to the acceptance.”

She continued: “It is less of a triumph or an optimistic sounding record. It had a little bit of darkness in it.”

Listeners hear Lissie channel synth pop, indie rock and soulful piano-based songwriting during the 13-track, 45-minute effort. It’s a departure from the folk backbone heard on “My Wild West,” but, Lissie explained, that’s what she felt the songs needed.

“That was what it wanted to be so I just went with it,” she said. "I wish I could tell you there was some big, grand plan. It was just kind-of what the songs wanted to be when I was working on ‘em." 

More: UPDATED: We ranked every Iowa State Fair Grandstand lineup since 1970 from worst to best

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With the exception of “Peace” and “Best Days,” two songs Lissie described as “not about romance,” Iowa didn’t play a major influence in her making of “Castles.”

She chronicled her journey back to the heartland on “My Wild West” and plans to continue telling that story in future songs.

“The whole Midwestern revelation is still a transition,” she said. “It’s not intimately clear how in two years' time, when I put out another album, probably, what that’ll look like. It’ll probably be more clear then.”

Until then, she’s going to keep growing her life in the Midwest.

“(I’m not) in any rush to create the next body of work. (I want to) just let it come to me. And I don’t think it’s going to be about a boy.

"I think it’s gonna be about vegetables,” she joked. “I don’t know.”

 

 

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