Caught Lissie on the national treasure that is Later… With Jools Holland earlier this year and I picked up the (more recently released) debut album just a couple of weeks back. Other reviewers have picked up the Stevie Nicks references (though I didn’t let that put me off) and certainly they are there: like a good whisky, some get things which others don’t, but I also picked up 60s Lulu, The Cardigans’ Nina Persson and a somewhat more hinged version of Martha Wainwright. This is, however, a really good album featuring a strong collection of original, self-penned songs and displaying a number of different musical styles ranging from straight ahead rock to 6os girl pop to country to the song that she sang so beautifully on Later… – a southern-style lament to the Mississippi which wouldn’t have been out of place on this N’Awlins benefit album (even if it is about the other end of the Mississippi, where she comes from). And, on ‘Record Collector’, she proves she’s a screamer ;-)
I had expected a little bit more country and the pop/rock content came as something of a surprise. With the new EP featuring a cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, the pop direction seems to be the one being taken (although that might just reflect the need for sales) and, in truth, she probably does need to define herself a little more clearly. Later albums will probably do just that – especially as she co-writes a lot of her own stuff. But, being possessed a voice of great clarity and power means having the ability to take on and do justice to a range of material, and pigeon-holing can surely wait a while longer. She’s over here on tour again soon – and in a support capacity, too: get there quick so you can say you saw her before she became massive.
A word also for a great production job – Jacquire King has captured Lissie’s fresh sound and approach and produced an album which retains its power and brightness over repeated plays: a far better job than the one Rick Rubin did on the Gogol Bordello album, which I picked up at the same time – sadly, an earth-bound album when its guitars and fiddles should send it soaring.