“I’d rather jack than Fleetwood Mac,” some terrible Stock Aitken and Waterman protégé once sang back in 1989. It seems that with her debut album Catching a Tiger, Lissie doesn’t agree - we suspect she would rather listen to The Chain on repeat. To be more accurate Lissie is the updated sound of one member of Fleetwood Mac - Stevie Nicks. For Catching a Tiger is an album full of southern drawls and songs that sound like they’ve been plucked straight from a nostalgic sun bleached road trip somewhere between 1975 and 1985. It’s a road trip that very much occupies the middle of that road, in a moderately adult FM friendly way.
Lissie certainly has a strong rasping voice that holds the songs together well, but as Catching a Tiger ends there’s a sense that this is a very safe album - a typical listener will be one who values authenticity, and possibly has Sheryl Crow and Maria McKee in their record collection, besides the works of the aforementioned Nicks.
There are a few great songs on Catching a Tiger. Record Collector starts things off well, with an off-kilter rhythm formed out of what sounds like a table tennis ball being walloped with a frying pan, the tender and intimate Everywhere I Go - a track that was used in the series finale to Dollhouse season 2 - is breathtakingly beautiful, and Little Lovin’ with its hooky chorus, lyrics of Mississippi moonshine and gradually building stomp is exquisitely classy. However there’s also some padding with non-big hitters such as the riff-rocking and acoustic bravado of Cuckoo and the oddball Worried About which takes a similar rhythmic approach to Record Collector with lesser effect. At its worst Catching a Tiger is comfortable and bland, yet at its best it’s a vehicle for displaying Lissie’s ability to deliver a strong country rock tune with a hint of soul.
Those awful jacking Stock Aitken and Waterman produced Reynolds Girls also sang “the music of every generation has its own identity,” yet Catching a Tiger harks back to a generation past. As we argued in our opening article back at the start of the year (here), pop music has reached a middle age where everything references something else. Catching a Tiger for better or worse, for richer or poorer, 100% supports this argument.