Singing for Lafcadio, Lizzy Ross belted indie twang with disregard for whomever her stagecoach ran over. Drums and electric guitar spurred her forward. But on Traces, her solo debut, Ross reins everything, creating a quiet ode to youth and love. Besides the occasional bass or percussion backdrop, it's just her and her acoustic. Picked guitar patterns provide motifs for extended verses that largely forgo choruses, emphasizing stories and emotion rather than typical song structures.
She visits a boyfriend's hometown in "Not Yet" and looks at an old photo. "I can see a beard that's making threats of growing in," she sings, "but not yet." Whether discovering the beginnings of love or stealing a husband, as on "Wedding Cake," Ross creates intimacy with details and near-whispers. She can be sultry or innocent, despondent or hopeful. Throughout, though, her voice jumps octaves and bursts into extended runs, barely containing some hidden joy of youth or the excitement of uncertainty. During "Needle and Thread," Ross ventures to "stitch together threadbare hearts/ make a new love from old parts." In Traces, love is wonderful and cruel and steadfast and elusive, and Ross wants all of those pieces.