On one hand, gotta hand it to producers Jacquire King (Kings
of Leon, Tom Waits) and/or Bill Reynolds of Band of Horses: the effects
intro-ing “Record Collector” are nearly as intriguing as the cash register slam
‘n’ jingle intro-ing Pink Floyd’s “Money” (and on numerous Waits tracks). On
the other hand, gotta take it away: the rest of Catching a Tiger delivers neither the zing promised by those
effects nor the folksier, more concise patchwork of Lissie’s 5-track debut, Why You Runnin’ – let alone both.
As it happens, three of CAT‘s
better and/or more popular tracks were also on WYR. Save “Record Collector” and a couple others on CAT, WYR offers more bang for the energy-expenditure buck. Further, CAT omits the sweet, country-ish melancholy of WYR‘s “Wedding Bells.”
CAT‘s all over the
place. “When I’m Alone” jams indulgent vocal phrasing with Buckingham-Nicks-era
Fleetwood Mac. With tasty, very ‘70s electric leads, “In Sleep” catches even
more of a “Rhiannon” vibe. “Cuckoo,” “Worried About,” and “Loosen the Knot”
move into the ‘90s, a la Sheryl Crow et al. Contemporary fare like the overly
ponderous “Bully” and abrasive “Little Lovin” is repetitive and over-indulgent.
A better-honed “Bully” might have potential.
When Lissie seems in sync with her muses, whether through
folk serenity (“Oh Mississippi”) or the creative mash of “Everywhere I Go”
(simultaneously channeling the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘90s, and… now), the picture clarifies into something more noteworthy. The knitting of spacy filler with a classic
early-‘60s progression on “Stranger” could stand with Dum Dum Girls or She and
Him. For the listener, and for Lissie, it’s about choices:
For the former, are the singer’s sandy, clarion tones enough
to sell CAT‘s meandering shebang? For
the latter: What kind of singing/songwriting
is my best, most unique expression? If I don’t want to choose, is there a way
to reach greater cohesion? And at what point do or don’t those choices
intersect with becoming the kind of Lissie likely to serenade K-Mart shoppers?
Collector,” “Stranger,” “In Sleep,” “Everywhere I Go” MARY LEARY