Lillie Lemon

Lillie Lemon and (left) Erica Wobbles are intergalactic instrumental pilots. 

Midwestern-born singer-songwriter Lillie Lemon is one of the most potent forces of the local music scene—her presence is dynamic whether she's on stage or not.

“Harrow Driver," off Lemon's masterful full-length debut brak, took the No. 1 spot on my playlist featuring Monterey's best.

The deeply personal brak is an 11-track emotional confessional that represents the strongest local release of the year thus far. Multi-instrumental collaborator Erica Wobbles and a plethora of special guests, including guitar talent Taylor Kropp and Casey Frazier (see No. 6), bring a shot of variety to an album that balances a steady mix of manufactured synth and organic, stripped-down vocals.

Having to chose a favorite among favorites is always a good problem to have. Initially, Lemon didn’t pick “Harrow Driver” as the record’s lead single, but it has a gripping hook that latches onto the frontal lobe.

Lemon’s prose—“We both feel the fear of falling”—is strong and engaging enough to attach itself to anyone.

From start to finish, there’s not a single dud on brak. The opener, “Ode to the Best Ones,” disguises heartache in a cloak of uptempo, mid-’80s pop.

“Give Up the Ghost” is driven by Wobbles’ pulverizing accented beat and a carton of ethereal effects that could have fallen off Tom Waits’ Mule Variations.

And “Still My Heart” showcases Lemon’s voice as is. No manipulation, just piano accompanied by Lemon’s sweet Midwestern-bred pipes.

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