Friday, August 20, 2010

Record review: Lissie - 'Catching A Tiger'

Posted by Frank

It took only one listen to Why You Runnin', the 2009 introductory EP from the blonde, freckled, charmingly nonchalant Lissie, to predict that big things were in store for the Rock Island-bred singer-songwriter. Although Illinois can no longer fully claim her - she now lives in California - her new, debut LP Catching A Tiger proves that she has lost none of her Midwestern heart and soul. It also proves that she's one hell of a breath of fresh air for pop-rock music, and someone we should expect to hear much more about. She's already made major waves in Britain since releasing the record there in June, and is now set to reach an even wider audience with its U.S. release.

Catching A Tiger splits its time between two distinct sides of Lissie: the reflective, earnest alt-country/folk songstress heard on Why You Runnin' and the uber-cool girl who fronts a band and owns a kickass record collection, but who loves a catchy radio pop song every now and then. Listen to the rural, sparse beauty of album closer "Oh Mississippi" right after the sleek, driving poppiness of "Loosen the Knot" to hear the difference at its most pronounced. One sounds like Neko Case at her most intimate while the other sounds like something you'd hear on the Top 40 if the Top 40 were much less bland. In-between the two sides of the spectrum she takes on Phil Spector girl-group ("Stranger"), Stevie Nicks-esque yearning ("When I'm Alone, "In Sleep") and piano-led balladry ("Bully"), all extremely well written and playing up her exquisite, clear voice. On the surface it might seem like all this variance would make for a disjointed record and a performer without a clear vision, but somehow Lissie keeps it from doing either. In fact, Catching A Tiger - and the artist herself - are even more exciting because of it.

Lissie will release "Cuckoo," one of the record's most infectious tracks, as a single on August 30. The single will also include her cover of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" - which has become a live favorite. For the live experience, plan on heading to Lincoln Hall on Sunday, October 17 for her next Chicago show.

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