After releasing one of the best EPs of 2009, Lissie broadens her horizons with Catching a Tiger, an album that mixes her dusky California folk-rock with commercial pop. It’s easy to like someone like Lissie, a 21st century flower child who surely would’ve been voted “most unique” by her high-school classmates if she hadn’t dropped out during senior year. She’s the sort of girl who listened to Patsy Cline records while everyone else was freaking out over Britney Spears, the girl who spent her summer vacations following Phish around while her classmates all went to the beach. As a performer, Lissie brings that same trailblazing attitude to her music, which is colored by her Midwestern roots and quirky, full-throttled vocals. Few folksingers have a voice as strong as Lissie's, and her sepia-toned croon is easily the best part of this album. On the other hand, few producers know what to do with such a powerful instrument, and Catching a Tiger -- whose myriad producers include Jacquire King, Bill Reynolds, Julian Emery, and Ed Harcourt -- doesn’t always highlight Lissie’s talent the way Why You Runnin' did. Older songs like “Oh Mississippi” and “Everywhere I Go” take a nicely sparse approach, dressing her vocals with reverb and tambourine snaps in a manner that recalls an alt-country Hope Sandoval. Other songs pile on the instruments to tuneful effect, with “When I’m Alone” taking its cues from Stevie Nicks and “Stranger” looking to the glory days of Phil Spector for inspiration. Where Catching a Tiger falters is in its most polished moments, where the rough edges of Lissie’s voice are sanded down and robbed of their power. But those moments are the exception, not the rule, and this debut only strengthens Lissie's potential to become one of folk music's newest sirens.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey