Lissie off to a good start with soul-tinged full-length debut LP, 'Catching a Tiger'

Seeing Lissie sing at SXSW this year, Listen, Dammit, was struck by how well her songs translated to a stripped-down trio (or occasionally solo) configuration. That’s one of the measures of a how good a performer really is, though there’s also plenty to love on the California-via-Illinois singer’s full-length debut.

“Catching a Tiger” (Fat Possum) is a collection of sinewy roots-tinged songs with low-key soul that emphasizes Lissie’s voice, which is at once strong and sultry. She lets loose on “When I’m Alone” over jangling see-saw guitar part  and muted but relentless bass; and sounds earnest and a little playful on “Little Lovin’.”

She dials in a super-catchy vintage pop vibe on “Stranger,” wrapping her lithe voice around a sunny melody over chiming guitar; builds from a murmur to ringing power on the sorrowful “Everywhere I Go” and shakes the rafters with her strength of feeling on the earthy ballad “Oh Mississippi.”

Although “Catching a Tiger” is a good album, a lack of overall cohesion keeps it from being a great one. Lissie’s songs are well-written, and her voice certainly measures up, but the overall package doesn’t always feel like it’s of a piece. It is, however, a very promising start.

Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Valerie Phillips

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