Album review: Lissie's 'Catching a Tiger'

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Friday, October 15, 2010

When the cover of your debut album shows you unadorned, with long blond hair straight from the 1970s; you're from California; you're a singer-songwriter; and your name sounds a bit like Stevie, inevitable unfair comparisons will be made. But there is at least one similarity: Lissie has quite a voice.

Lissie (a.k.a. Lissie Maurus) looks the part of a 1970s Laurel Canyon resident. Her debut EP, "Why You Runnin'," was released late last year to much critical acclaim and garnered a great deal of interest. She has been compared to Neko Case, but her style is rooted in such earlier singer-songwriters as Maria McKee of Lone Justice and Karen Peris of the Innocence Mission.

Lissie cuts a wide swath across genres. She wrote or co-wrote all the songs on her latest release, "Catching a Tiger," but the production is diverse. The album was recorded in Nashville with Jacquire King (Kings of Leon) and in Asheville, N.C., with Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses bassist). There's folk ("Look Away"), pop ("Loosen the Knot") and the Fleetwood Mac-sounding "In Sleep," complete with dream-inspired lyrics: "Fast asleep/Where I keep my memories/He's calling me/Out in dreams he visits me." The last track, "Oh Mississippi," featuring mostly Lissie on piano, sounds like Bonnie Raitt if you didn't know better, complete with husky voice.

But perhaps Lissie's best performance is not even on this album: her version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," available on YouTube.

- Benjamin Opipari


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