‘To romanticize is to savor’: Lillian Leadbetter arrives on captivating debut album | Rutland Reader

The Anonymous Coffeehouse Lillian Leadbetter performs as a duo with Phil Cohen at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at The Anonymous Coffeehouse, 10 S. Park St., Lebanon, N.H. (album release), followed by Twangtown Paramours (8:15 p.m.) and David Singley (9 p.m.). Call 603-443-1283 or go online to


‘Not again,’ sings Lillian Leadbetter on the beautifully subdued “Not in the Mood for Heartbreak,” which opens her new album. “I see it happening / Growing cold / When did loving get old?”

Call her a hopeless romantic, but Leadbetter wouldn’t have it any other way.

“State of Romance,” the Lincoln native’s debut album scheduled for release on Friday, “is a vignette from a time when I was hurting, learning, healing and growing toward myself, with heartbreak as my guide,” says the singer-songwriter in press materials.

“From the end of one heartbreak to the beginning of another, I learned to embrace beauty at every turn,” she says. “I began to expand my definition of romance beyond the conventional. ‘Romance’ became so much more. It became a way of life.”

Heartbreak and romance are treated as royal subjects in Leadbetter’s lexicon, more of a mantra than a temporary condition.

“I have come to believe that romance is a choice, a mindset,” Leadbetter said Tuesday via email from Iceland, where she was visiting with her Icelandic partner, multi-instrumentalist Thor Davidsson (Kaleo).

“‘State of Romance’ is an ode to the intentionality of choosing to find the silver lining, beauty in the banal and acknowledgement of the synchronicities that appear in our lives,” she added.

“In my eyes, to romanticize is to savor.”

All too short at just over 30 minutes, “State of Romance” is a stunning album about heartbreak, romance and an overall lust for life that makes you want to inhabit its warm and inviting world.

The eight-track record — seven tunes and a revealing phone message from Leadbetter’s friend Sophia Cirignano — delivers a fully fleshed sound thanks to a talented cast of Burlington-based musicians.

Recorded at Future Fields Studios in Burlington, “State of Romance” is a spellbinding set that finds Leadbetter fully arriving as a seriously promising artist on the folk and Americana scene.

The wistful “American Sweetheart” paints a captivating portrait of heartbreak revisited while remaining optimistic on the soaring chorus and dramatic, string-enhanced instrumentation.

And standout song “Sophia” is a pretty and uplifting ditty about a long-distance friend featuring delicate acoustic guitar (Eli Gold) and pedal steel (Ben Rodgers) and gorgeous flugelhorn (Connor Young) alongside Leadbetter’s affecting vocals.

The breezy and languid “Leo Moon,” adorned with trumpet (Young) and pedal steel, is another highlight with telling lyrics: “But I’ve got wings / That I keep in the closet,” sings Leadbetter. “So he won’t see / When the feathers fall from it / I need to feel free / And you shouldn’t feel haunted.”

Ditto closing song, “Silver Lining,” a slow- burning ode to heartbreak and hope that soars on strings and Leadbetter’s almost operatic voice and compositional prowess.

Leadbetter, 26 — who studied at Berklee College of Music before graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in anthropology and a minor in music — has been making a name for herself in regional circles as Lillian and the Muses, releasing an impressive self-titled EP in 2021.

That followed a 2019 full-length album and 2017 EP by former Burlington group Band of the Land. The folk and reggae-flavored five-piece featured Leadbetter — who was then known as Lillian Seibert — on vocals in addition to Burlington multi-instrumentalist Eli Gold, who played guitar, bass and piano on Leadbetter’s new album.

Leadbetter, who also owns her own photography company, now splits her time between Burlington and Nashville while also traveling as much as possible as opportunities and inspiration arise.

“I’ve wanted to be nomadic for as long as I can remember and have always had the intention of building a lifestyle that allowed me to travel and explore as much as possible,” she said. “The mixture of my passions in music and other art mediums has allowed me to make that dream a reality.”

“I find that art begets art,” she added. “Photography and music each scratch a different artistic itch. Music has been part of my life since I was a small child, and it h as become an invaluable and omnipresent lens through which I view life.”

Her debut album under her own name, “State of Romance” is a fully realized culmination of Leadbetter’s decade-long journey of creating and performing her own music — which began as a child while playing guitar and learning harmonies with her father at their home at the end of a dirt road.

“Finding my voice as Lillian Leadbetter required me to look inward, to reflect and honor my musical roots and rediscover my relationship with poetry, community and myself,” she said.

“At this point in my journey, I have really come to value the sacred process and space of creation. Being the executive producer of this album forced me to show up for myself and trust my instincts in a way that has had a positive effect in both my personal and musical growth.”

Leadbetter will celebrate the release of the album on Friday at The Anonymous Coffeehouse in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where she’ll perform as a duo with Burlington singer-songwriter Phil Cohen.

Leadbetter said she and Davidsson — a multi-instrumentalist with a focus in harmonica and pedal steel with whom she shares a home in Nashville — will tour the East coast in January in support of the album.

”State of Romance,” by Lillian Leadbetter, will be available Oct. 13 on all streaming platforms. Digital download and CD (and vinyl this winter) will be available for purchase at www.lillianleadbettermusic.com online.

thomaswhuntington @hotmail.com

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