Catching a Tiger

Fat Possum Records

I love Lissie. I heard her EP Why You Runnin’? several months ago and there was one thing I learned: Five songs are not enough for someone this immensely talented. Her voice can be as smooth as honey, as down-home as Reba, and as bluesy as Bonnie Raitt. On her full-length debut, Catching a Tiger, Lissie proves that she is the best new artist of 2010.

The album opens with “Record Collector” which bristles with a swagger very similar to Nellie McKay. Insert a church revival interlude where Lissie softly proclaims that “There was this one time/ When I swore God, she spoke to me/ And she told me, oh yes she told me/ Of all the wonders that she could bring.” Then, Lissie leads the choir that builds to a glorious climax of “Why don’t you fill me up with it.” It’s amazing.

Then she follows with the Sia-like dance-pop “When I’m Alone” and “In Sleep,” a lament about the only place that she can see a former lover, complete with a guitar solo.

Her voice is one of the best to come along in the past 20 years, and that’s not the only reason to love her. Lissie’s lyrics are straight from the soul and it shows, with lines like “I know your heart’s been broken/ But martyrs never open doors/ The world is yours/ Carry this torch/ And use your voice” from “Bully.” Or the opening lines on “Loosen the Knot”: “Humor me this one last time/ Think I’ve just made up my mind/ Looking at me like a lover does/ But it’ll never be the way it was/ Feel that cord that holds us tight/ Let’s unravel this tonight.”

Catching a Tiger is a more polished album than her EP, but her rustic roots and angelically raw voice still shine. Three of the five songs from her previous EP (“Oh Mississippi,” “Little Lovin’,” and “Everywhere I Go”) help connect her homemade upbringing on the banks of the Mississippi River to her new adopted hometown of London on this album. Listen to Lissie. She will make you remember why you listen to music in the first place.

Fat Possum Records:

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