Following what must feel like non-stop shows and albums for Lissie – she shows no signs of slowing down. Instead, she’s gearing up for the live album release of her Union Chapel shows last December.
With each album release for Lissie, she seems determined to showcase more of her talent in subtly different ways. Shifting from the adult contemporary roots of debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’, to the rock heart of ‘Back To Forever’ and to the country soul of this year’s ‘My Wild West’. Lissie is keen to show us she’s always expanding. This transition shines through in her live shows too. With this album from Union Chapel demonstrating herself at her raw core, she performs acoustically alongside her guitar.
The album stretches 12 songs from her discography, and 1 cover from the forever-wonderful Joni Mitchell. And despite it’s recording coming before the release of ‘My Wild West’ – the tracklist is still heavy with new tracks; featuring 5 performances from the latest album.
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Opening with a heartfelt “Thank You” to the crowd. Lissie bustles into the uplifting ‘Bully’, a fan-favorite of her 2010 debut ‘Catching A Tiger’. Segueing perfectly into the entirely opposite and attitude-filled ‘Shameless’, Lissie‘s harsh and raw vocals speak for themselves. As she chants the lyrics “I don’t want to be famous / If I have to be shameless”, the 1000-or-so fans to the sold-out show act as her back-up singers. Sweetly whispering her way through the opening to the next track ‘Sun Keeps Risin’, and huskily fighting her way through to the chorus – Lissie provides us with a perfect snapshot of herself in this live album. This is who she is now, and shows us what she wants from her career at this point in time.
Leaving her major Sony Music label deal after the release of her second album in 2013. Lissie found freedom in letting the recording process happen organically for this year’s ‘My Wild West’. And this is entirely conveyed in her live performances; with this album showing her as entirely her own. While she may still be a niche yet to fully crossover to the mainstream; she has seen success in 3 top-twenty UK albums and a loyal, ever-growing fanbase.
This shows in next track ‘When I’m Alone’ – undoubtedly Lissie’s biggest ‘hit’. But it’s clearly audible; her ease and familiarity with the song. Stripping back for a strong ballad in her discography – ‘They All Want You’ follows. And the tale of heartbreak is perfectly executed in this performance. The songwriting here is poignant, and an exemplary guide on “How-to write the perfect ‘outside-looking-in'” song. With the shaky closing line of “They all want you / But I do too” remaining one of her strongest discography moments – Lissie shows that she already has classic moments under her belt.
Singles of ‘My Wild West’ also make an appearance in the tracklist. ‘Hero’, ‘Daughters’ and the ever-energetic ‘Don’t You Give Up On Me’ really sparkle with Lissie’s new direction. All of which stunning in songwriting, sound and performance. But none more so than almost entirely stripped back country tracks ‘Oh Mississippi’ and ‘Ojai’. This consistent style bodes well for her as she tackles ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell. Joined by Jo Dudderidge on piano from Manchester’s indie-folk The Travelling Band. Many fans of Mitchell argue it should be a federal crime to conquer a Joni song. Though they will be certain to say it’s fair game when they hear this extremely powerful take on the track.
As the album closes, ‘Everywhere I Go’ showcases at first a soft version of the woman we know as Lissie. Eventually climatizing into a display of belting vocals, cutting lyrics and all-over, fully-genuine talent. ‘In Sleep’ – another ‘Catching The Tiger’ cut – ends the album on high and happy note. Demonstrating she’s not a one-trick pony, Lissie’s latest album being a live one is the smartest thing she could have done for her career. Newcomers are being sucked in by a new, raw take on what she typically composes in loud, thrashing album tracks. Proving ever-masterful with tracks as ever-beautiful; Lissie is the strongest in the lane she has carved for herself.