Singer-songwriter Miranda Lile. Headshot submitted by Miranda Lile.
“Hindsight’s a friend” — nobody knows that better than sophomore Miranda Lile (she/her) who released her debut album “Ellipsis” on March 12, 2022. I interviewed her on Sept. 21, 2022, about the creation and six-month anniversary of the album.
Lile’s music — for those of you who haven’t given it a listen — spreads across the folk, pop, and indie spectrum. From the whimsical “Raspberries” and “Ephraim” to the expansive “Not Just for Night” and “Right Now,” “Ellipsis” finds strength in its diversity.
What truly ties this album together however is the title itself: “Ellipsis.” For Lile, the idea of the ellipsis is one of time: it can begin a sentence, end a thought, leave a moment to pause … or somewhere in between. Those three dots can lead to or from anywhere.
It is in that transitive space “Ellipsis” bloomed. The concept resonated especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation and its inevitable reflection allowed Lile to refine her song craft and poetry until vaccinations allowed her to begin recording in a studio in 2021.
However, what sonically ties these seven tracks together, as Lile calls it, is their “rough earthiness.” The pizzicato strings of pandemic anthem “Right Now” come to mind, as well as the old guitar used on the poetic “Stubborn.” Lile remarks how it was a “nightmare to record” with Crow — the name of that old guitar. It was her father’s before, who coincidentally wrote a song on it when Lile was born.
Maybe the braiding of history and change is what makes “Ellipsis” such a magical listen. “Ephraim,” a masterclass in storytelling, describes the Door County town and how places alter with age. Will it be the same when you return a few years down the line?
Similarly, one of the topics that kept coming up between Lile and I was how these songs kept shifting meaning as they aged; most notably, the past-laden and aforementioned “Right Now” and “Stubborn.” Their power comes from capturing a moment hot off the iron while leaving room for the audience to paint their own picture.
The Lile-certified banger of this album is “Without You,” which accomplishes this individualism the best. She explains how her friends and listeners alike have related it to their platonic, parental and romantic connections, all with varying degrees of attachment or absence.
“There’s guilt in freedom,” she notes. And that is evident on the last chorus of the song, where the lyric changes from “I can’t wait to get by without you” to “I can only get by with you.” Lile understands the difficulty of succumbing to bad habits and people: a sentiment explored on the fantastic “Indulgence” as well.
At LUaroo 2022, which is Lawrence’s annual student-organized music festival, “Without You,” “Indulgence,” and a handful of other “Ellipsis” songs came with new arrangements of strings and horns, as well as the traditional drums, guitar, keys and guitar. I had the luck of seeing Lile perform, and it was nothing short of magnificent. Pictures and footage of the performance can be found on her Instagram — @miranda.lile — and her website — mirandalile.com.
These arrangements sound just as wonderful on the actual record. Her producer, Tom Riddle, masterfully paints her vision across “Ellipsis.” Miranda Cecsarini plays all the live strings on the album. Malcolm and Darrin Lile — who are Lile’s brother and father respectively — appear on bass and drums on “Not Just for Night.” On the same track, Riddle’s interns also helped with additional guitar soundscapes.
In short, “Ellipsis” is a wonderful, timely meditation. The writing for her second album has been finished, and a third one is in the works currently. Quoting the fantastic outro of the album, that’s “all [she] can say for now.” Search for “Ellipsis” by Miranda Lile on any streaming platform for a reflective half hour of beauty.