Premiere: The Resilient Energy of Carry Illinois’ Somber “Little Shell”

Carry Illinois © 2017

I have shaken, and fell to quell it, and left the tyrants who made life hellish

When we are depressed – in deep pain – we curl up into ourselves, pipe down, and wait for the world to pass us by. We don’t let anyone in; nothing that can potentially cause more anguish than we already feel. Better to hide, where we can at least pretend to be safe. Carry Illinois’ “Little Shell” is an intimate call to one such soul in need, a way of saying, It’s okay: You’re going to be okay. It may be hard now, but things are going to get better.

Is it cold inside your little shell?
Are you waiting for it to crack?
They keep you in for far too long
Don’t you think it’s the warmth you lack?
Listen: “Little Shell” – Carry Illinois

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Little Shell,” the lead single off Carry Illinois’ new album Garage Sale (out May 12, 2017). Consisting of Austin by way of Illinois singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman, Rudy Villareal, Darwin Smith, Derek Morris, and Andrew Pressman, Carry Illinois craft an evocatively raw, lo-fi indie pop sound that is as fragile as it is full-bodied. The follow-up to the band’s 2015 sophomore release AlabasterGarage Sale captures the emotional fragility and darkness that has shrouded the band since bassist John Winsor took his own life in March 2016.

Garage Sale - Carry Illinois

Garage Sale – Carry Illinois

Much of Garage Sale, like the name itself suggests, feels like a grand, somber exposé of emotion, memory, and experience. We hear Lizzy Lehman dealing with dense subject matter, struggling to come to terms with tragedy and reaching out to her lost friend – and perhaps, more than that – for multiple one last time-s. “Little Shell” is a sober, outstretched hand to a friend. Light piano and guitar drive the surrounding melody as Lehman tries to understand her friend’s point of view, from inside the safety of that little shell.

Outside’s a difficult place.
They can hurt you and they can tame you
A Directionless uncaring state,
when you go out on your own.
Carry Illinois © 2017

Carry Illinois © 2017

“‘Little Shell’ is about the uncertainty and fears associated with growing up, paving your own path, and coping with the outside world,” explains Lizzy Lehman. “It is about rising above and beyond painful moments of my youth and conquering that which pulls me down and keeps me in my comfort zone. The only way to grow and learn is to push oneself far beyond the familiar and into the unknown.”

Can you breathe at the grandest height?
Can you feel the pressure build?
It is safer at the lowest point,
Can you make your motions still?

It doesn’t matter who Carry Illinois are speaking to, because we have all been in that dire situation where we’ve fallen, and we need someone else to help pick us back up. It’s a special individual who offers itself as an anchor to another, but it can truly be anybody: You just have to keep an open and willing heart. Lehman’s voice is bone-chilling on “Little Shell;” the melancholy is palpable in her tone as she reaches out into the ether, doing all she can to try and help lift another’s weighted spirit.

Heavy emotions run rampant on Carry Illinois’ “Little Shell” but their music is resilient, balancing the pain and darkness of the band’s recent loss with a drive for life that refuses to be doused. That raw, authentic energy offers a powerful listening experience that is not to be missed. Take a moment for yourself with “Little Shell,” and look out for Carry Illinois’ new album Garage Sale, out May 12!

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Garage Sale - Carry Illinois

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com