It might be hyperbole – and even a bit unfair – to write that Lissie's music sounds like the perfect amalgam of Neko Case and Bon Iver as the Why You Runnin'? EP is only her first record and making such comparisons can create unrealistic expectations, but this skinny, freckled, blonde midwesterner has made a striking debut that is hard to describe any other way.
From the first track, “Little Lovin,'” Lissie's voice is on display, overpowering the quiet trot of the instruments behind her. Her voice isn't quite a mature as Case's, but it's remarkably similar in sound and sheer power. In “Everywhere I Go,” there is little beside her vocals, yet it fills every corner of the room.
The airy reverberations and acoustic guitar on the second track, “Wedding Bells,” bring to mind Bon Iver and invoke a similar cold and lonesome feeling. Where Bon Iver refined these feelings in a Wisconsin cabin, Lissie finds them in Los Angeles, a town that is crushingly lonely despite all the people (or so I've been told).
The song writing on Why You Runnin'? is exceptional from the slow atmospheric pop of “Here Before” to the midwestern gospel of “Oh Mississippi” which would be perfect on A Prairie Home Companion. I found myself singing along with most of the tracks after only one listen.
While the themes of this album – recovering from a broken heart and trying to retain your roots in the big city – are somewhat sombre, this debut from Lissie is something to celebrate.
Lissie will perform on March 13 at the Cat's Cradle along with The Low Anthem and Annie and the Beekeepers. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 on the day of the show.