Release Date: Oct 8, 2013
Record label: Columbia
In 2013, musical templates from the ‘70s and ‘80s are in. Artists like Solange, Mayer Hawthorne, Sky Ferreira, Daft Punk and Haim have all delved into this period and earned acclaim for doing so. The singer Lissie was ahead of the curve: she debuted in 2010 with Catching A Tiger, a release full of guitar-driven tunes that would have fit on the radio 30 or more years ago.
Lissie may have begun her career as a simple singer/songwriter, but those days were long gone by the time she arrived at her second album, 2013's Back to Forever. Produced by Jack Knife Lee -- best known for his work with latter-day R. E.
Lissie sure sounds like she’s having a good time for someone who complains a lot. She moans about work, untrue lovers, and even environmentally incorrect coal mining practices. She does this with such passion and glee that one cannot help but get caught up in her righteous indignation. Lissie makes one want to pump fists in the air and sing along because she always seems to be giving it her all.
Lissie, AKA Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, clearly is not running low on affecting alt. country/folk-rock paeans that discuss the highs and lows of love, life and loss. Her debut Catching A Tiger was applauded in 2010, with many commenting on her knack for hooks and relatable, single-worthy tracks. Its follow-up, Back To Forever, has been produced by Jacknife Lee, so one could assume a stylistic change is on the horizon.
Lissie’s 2010 debut introduced us to an artist who seemed bred from dusty small towns of the rural South, although she was solidly middle-class and Midwestern. Sexy, bored and anxious, with a voice that could shatter buildings and hearts, Catching A Tiger was a huge success. On the heels of the album and the failed relationship that inspired it, Lissie went west, recording her follow-up in the lush hills of Topanga Canyon.
LissieBack To Forever(Fat Possum)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars On her first full-length record, Lissie surprised her newfound fan base by abandoning the endearing soft folk from her breakout E.P. Why You Runnin’ in favor of Catching A Tiger’s cleaner, loud pop. Back To Forever, the Illinois singer’s follow-up to her 2010 debut, further embraces the singer’s well-designed blend of pop rock.
Californian Lissie Maurus worked a number of jobs before breaking into the music industry. Such jobs included working at Urban Outfitters and more recently working as a honey seller on a farmer’s market. She has come a long way since then. After being heralded as the number one best new solo artist by Paste Magazine in 2010, Lissie went on to release her first album Catching A Tiger.
Lissie Back to Forever (Fat Possum) Although Lissie's initial EPs pigeonholed her as a singer-songwriter, the dusky, soulful pop of her full-length debut, 2010's Catching a Tiger, pushed her sound well beyond folk roots without sacrificing the effectiveness of her powerful vocals. Sophomore album Back to Forever pushes that trajectory even further afield, the Illinois native exploding on opening tracks "The Habit" and "Further Away (Romance Police)" with pure Stevie Nicks dynamism, the latter even scorched by Seventies guitar. "Shameless" clips with a rough, scathing contempt, but "They All Want You" and "Sleepwalking" settle down into smoother, no less emotionally punctured patterns, then burst into rousing climaxes constantly threatening until their inevitable, cathartic release.
Imagine Dolly Parton directing a high-budget action movie, featuring Imogen Heap, Lissie, and Shania Twain as Dolly’s Angels. Damien Rice appears as the ‘Q’ character, on hand to suggest handy chord combinations and lyrics steeped in subtle cliche in times of crisis. Birdy is the villain, running round Nashville stealing country-western songs and turning them into mechanical pop smash hits.
Lissie recently told this writer that when she writes her songs, she’s usually “deep in the middle of heartbreak.” “Lately though, my ability to write songs has improved,” she continued. “I’ve gotten some distance from my heartaches.” Given Lissie’s description of her creative process — the results of which are evident on her sophomore set — it would seem as if she’s making music from a disengaged point of view. So it’s somewhat surprising that key tracks like “The Habit,” “I Bet On You” and “Shameless” in particular leave an entirely different impression, one that conveys an unmistakable air of angst and intensity.