For breakout Gold Coast singer-songwriter Lily Papas has an unmistakably standalone voice in a world increasingly geared towards homogeneity. She has been singing since she was eight and began writing music not long afterward, preferring to trade on passion rather than what’s in fashion. Lily’s debut record, Encore, was written mostly in her Gold Coast home but recorded in Los Angeles. It was a deliberate continental shift, as Lily sought to match her surroundings with the thematic focus of her songs, many of which use Hollywood Hills as a metaphor for another life. Lily has always been a bold dreamer. Told by a music teacher at 11 years old that she had the voice of a folk singer, Papas went home and learned to sing Christina Aguilera songs instead. “I’d always go for the big notes,” she says. “I wanted to be Steve Nicks so badly. I would just tell myself; I am going to be a rock star.” This fervor extends to the album title: “The decision to call it Encore was simple,” says Lily. “I wanted people to love and listen to the album so much that they always wanted more.” You can hear the result of Lily’s commitment on Encore, a record whittled down from over 200 songs and developed over two intense years since signing to Neon/Universal. Lily’s voice, sonorous and mahogany-edged, certainly doesn’t sound like it belongs with electronic production. But if you ask her, that’s precisely the point. She’s never fit in before, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to start now. “I have this thing where I have to prove people wrong when they said I can’t do things,” says Lily. It’s certainly working well for her so far. Impossible to pigeonhole but instantly accessible, Encore is equally indebted to London Grammar’s ardent synth love letters (‘Jackson’) and the brassy melodic strokes of The Pretenders’ Chrissy Hynde (‘Honey’). It’s 10 songs of lushly produced alternative pop that use the process of creation to find peace. Astonishingly accomplished but unsurprisingly confident, Encore marks Lily as one to watch, but more importantly one to be heard. What to expect: Indie and pop
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