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Album Review

Lissie, 'Catching a Tiger'

August 16, 2010

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When you’ve got a voice like Lissie Maurus’s — hard-bitten and as vast as the prairies (Stevie Nicks, please meet Neko Case) — you can turn heads by singing whatever you’d like. And that’s what this California-based singer-songwriter has done, rousing early buzz with covers of everyone from Hank Williams (“Wedding Bells’’) to Lady Gaga (“Bad Romance’’). They’ve been delightful teasers leading up to Lissie’s debut, but sadly, “Catching a Tiger’’ is an erratic introduction that slaps together a few of her older songs with new ones that don’t cut nearly as close to the bone. Tear-jerkers such as “Everywhere I Go’’ leave you slack-jawed, but then Lissie tosses off generic radio bait (“Loosen the Knot,’’ “Cuckoo’’) seemingly from a different, and inferior, album. From piano balladry to electric rockers, Lissie is all over the place, but you never get a clear idea of the kind of artist she is. Maybe she doesn’t even know yet, which is the sinking feeling this debut imparts. Lissie is certainly a phenomenal talent and one to watch, but it’s disappointing that “Catching a Tiger’’ doesn’t make a more lasting first impression. (Out tomorrow)

JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Bully’’

Lissie performs at T.T. the Bear’s on Oct. 23.