Can you guess which one isn’t?…
Michaelangelo Matos: Seems like people like her as much for her semi-all-over-the-place back story as for her music: expelled from Midwestern high school and associations with Lenny Kravitz, Band of Horses, and Deadmau5 aren’t quite par for the Adult Album Alternative course. Bland folk-rock, however, is.
Katherine St Asaph: Lissie Maurus is another Hotel Cafe graduate, like Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson and umpteen other newbies I can’t remember (don’t get me wrong, this is the kind of music I usually love). But whether it’s her attitude, her voice or just me listening at the right time, Lissie seems to have more oomph. Here, she remakes Beth Orton’s “Paris Train” with half the shimmer. That’s not as horrible as it sounds; she’s left just enough floating around beneath her singing for the wistfulness to come through.
Anthony Easton: Gorgeous and lonely, jazz enough to be pop, pop enough to be soul, and working along the middle edge of some profound fucking sadness.
Martin Skidmore: There’s a slight croakiness in her voice that reminds me a little of Diana Vickers, but she’s a stronger, more technically straightforward singer, tinges of folk and even blues in her indie voice. The power of her voice is distinctly impressive, the music skips along with some life, and it’s a pretty strong song too. I am much keener on this than I expected.
John Seroff: I’d be shocked to be the only one making the Stevie Nicks comparison here; I’ve not listened to more than four Fleetwood Mac tracks in my life and Nicks was STILL the first name that jumped to mind with “When I’m Alone”. Maybe that lack of exposure/interest to FM explains my lukewarm reaction to Lissie; based on this one song; she’s got a lot of style, but I’m having difficulty scoring much depth.
Iain Mew: I really like the guitar part in this that keeps on rolling in the background through almost the whole song, never resolving, only bumping up in volume for the chorus. It gives a strong sense of unrest and keeps everything moving, setting the scene really well for the far more showy yearning of the vocals.
Mark Sinker: Broadest unapologetic speech impediment since Toyah? The meshed discipline of the opening guitar-shimmer is promising, but the rise and fall between her musing-voice and her OK-I-MEAN-THIS-voice is all a bit well-made-by-numbers, never really finding a way back into that early sense of possibility. Then the main arrangement comes back into the room and reminds everyone we REALLY don’t want any trouble please.
Alex Ostroff: “When I’m Alone” opens with a bluesy guitar modulation, creating a lovely murky haze that Lissie hollers through in an attempt to convey desperation and feeling. At times her appealing throatiness pulls it off, but the best trick here is the jammingtogetherofwordsandsyllablestobuildtension followed by a well-punctuated release, which Mariah owned so thoroughly in “We Belong Together” that all other attempts come off amateurish. It’s a pristine mood piece, but the chorus is underwritten and insubstantial, and the song evaporates with it.