When Lucie Silvas set out to make the music videos for several of the songs from 2015’s Letters to Ghosts, she knew that she wanted to use the opportunity to continue to tell a story – and not one entirely dependent on real life. For the “Trilogy” – “Letters to Ghosts,” “Villain” and, the final chapter streaming on Rolling Stone Country, “Smoke,” – the British-born, Nashville-residing Silvas followed one devious, devilish character with more than a little baggage in her trunk (physically and metaphorically). Watch the clip above of all three in sequence, with appearances from Rick Brantley, Erin McCarley and multiple sides of Silvas’ psyche.
“Writing music and singing and performing live is something that comes naturally,” Silvas tells Rolling Stone Country, “but then when you get into the world of videos and visuals – some people think like that from the very beginning, but I was just playing music. So I was trying to think of a way I could do it comfortably. And that was to play a role, and play this villainous character.” Indeed, the Silvas in the videos certainly bears no resemblance to the one in real life, but it’s a tool to explore the ghosts and secrets, from lost love affairs to sins both small and scandalous, that dominate all of our personal histories. “There is a devil on everybody’s shoulder,” she says.
“Smoke” was spurred from a conversation with a friend – a method of inspiration that Silvas turns to frequently. “Someone said to me, ‘It’s like I have a sickness of the heart and can’t cure it.’ It made me think of my history with people and relationships. Am I this creative crazy type that’s never going to find contentment, that’s always going to find drama? ‘Smoke’ is a bit of that. You look at someone else and then look at yourself, and put yourself into it.” Like the other tracks in the Trilogy, “Smoke” hones in on the singer’s unique sound that’s partly evocative of booming pop vocalists (this is the kind of song that Lady Gaga should have had on Joanne), part Americana, via Silvas’ mandolin riffs and strong songwriting, and part British roots, even conjuring up the sweeping instrumentals of the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”
Silvas moved to Nashville in 2012 after a successful career back in England – soon after, she met John Osborne of Brothers Osborne, whom she later married and recruited to produce Letters along with Ian Fitchuck. She spent the last year touring with the Osbornes, as well as opening for Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, James Bay and Miranda Lambert, with whom she worked to co-write “Smoking Jacket” from The Weight of These Wings alongside Natalie Hemby.
“It was amazing. I felt like I got so lucky meeting her in that time in my life and her life,” says Silvas about working with Lambert. “She was so excited about music, and she seemed so inspired to try and put herself out there and take risks with music and not follow any rules. And that’s the only way I know how to write.”
Last year brought several other country music milestones for Silvas: her Grand Ole Opry debut this past August, and making the 2016 CMT Next Women of Country highlight artist ranks. Still, she doesn’t spend too much time worrying where or how to meld her multifaceted influences. “I always get asked, ‘Is it country? Is it pop?’ And I always say, I don’t know, but you either like it or you don’t, and I don’t know what to tell you otherwise,” Silvas says. “People want to support me, but they don’t know what playlist to put me on. So I’m like, ‘Well, then just put me on all of them.'”