Lissie: Woman At Work
Photo by Valerie Phillips
For up-and-coming singer/songwriter Lissie, a fast-talking, blue-eyed blonde from Illinois—born Elisabeth Maurus—having a relaxed, low-key attitude toward her career has resulted in a successful EP, a much-anticipated full-length album, Catching a Tiger, and an impressive number of festival dates in Europe and the States this year that included Bonnaroo and Glastonbury. “I hardly ever do anything with any end result in mind,” she says in a Midwestern accent. “I just want to entertain my whims as they happen.” With a husky singing voice full of soul, blues and spunk, it didn’t take much to get the attention of critics.
Lissie’s EP, Why You Runnin’, recorded in 2009 with the help of producer Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses), is a hauntingly beautiful sample of her slow-cooked ballads and smoky blues-pop. For Catching a Tiger, on the other hand, she “wanted to dig out the feelings of the songs. Some songs are more upbeat and catchy… a bit more in your face.”
While her musical influences are across the board—from Dr. Dre to Tim McGraw to Metallica—Lissie is inspired by “any artist who is telling their story. Because that’s what I try to do: tell my first-person story.”
Most stories on Catching a Tiger revolve around her youthful rebellion and her relationships. “This may sound silly—and I’ve gotten past it a bit now—but I’ve always been boy crazy,” she confesses.
The full length is decidedly more produced than the EP, as tracks lean more toward pop than blues. Songs like “In Sleep,” a mellow number that erupts into a two-minute rocking instrumental- and “Look Away,” a solemn tune with light, steely guitar, illustrate Lissie’s ability to polish her bluesy roots.
“If I’m feeling rejected or excited, in love or angry, or have a lot of feelings surrounding the conquest of some dude I’m obsessed with, that’s a pretty good place to begin songwriting—matters of the heart.” But then she laughs, “That sounds so non-feminist, and I think of myself as a strong woman.”
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