Equally inspired by the Americana community of her Nashville home and the boardwalk culture of her native New Jersey, Lucy Isabel introduces herself as a road-ready songwriter with her debut album, Rambling Stranger.
Like the title suggests, Rambling Stranger finds Isabel on the move, taking stock of her world as it unfolds outside of the car windshield at highway speed. She's been a traveling musician for years, ever since she shelved an acting career in New York City and moved to Tennessee. Living in Nashville motivated her, but it was the road — where she built her audience one show at a time — that sharpened her songwriting. She wrote folk songs, heartland roots-rockers, and acoustic ballads. She wrote about her husband; about the changing landscape of her hometown back east; about the wanderlust that kept her moving night after night, traveling from the listening rooms of America to the pubs of Australia and back again.
Meanwhile, she also made time to visit the recording studio, releasing her first EP, 2016's Along the Way, within two years of graduating from Yale. Another EP, KANE, followed in 2017, stocked with stories about her maternal grandmother's family. With 2019's Rambling Stranger, though, Lucy Isabel shows the full scope of her songwriting. These 10 songs are filled with images from an adulthood lived on the run: a shuttered army fort along the Jersey Shore; a mountain range outside of Seattle; a road leading to an unknown destination, promising nothing but the unexpected for anyone willing to take it. And Isabel, of course, can't resist taking those paths.
"When I was nine months old, my parents had to get me a regular bed instead of a crib, because I'd climb to the top of my crib and jump off," says the young frontwoman, whose voice — a classic-sounding folk croon that evokes everyone from Brandi Carlile to Judy Collins — shares the spotlight with accordion, keyboards, and numerous stringed instruments throughout Rambling Stranger. "I was always looking for somewhere else to be. A rambling stranger is who I am to this day, even though I've now found a home for myself. My bed is in Nashville. My husband is there. But there's always a part of me that's looking to chase down something new, and it keeps me moving."
Produced by Jared Anderson and recorded in a serious of live, inspired takes, Rambling Stranger moves at its own speed, setting the pace for a career whose momentum is just beginning. Ramble on.