Lissie - Grit and Grace

Lissie is a woman.  She stands on the stage. Unassuming enough… but when the music gathers, she seems to draw upon some power, unseen, loose in the universe and it folds out through her mouth in the form of a song. She’s golden; she’s lithe- the best way I can describe her in action is if Mick Jagger were a ray of sunlight.  

The venue - downstairs at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia makes for an almost coffee-house vibe (bonus was the artist playing the upstairs stage we got to catch for a minute or two on our way in and out!).  The intimacy allowed in that space really lent itself to Lissie’s artistry in songwriting and her vocal talent.

The first time I ever heard Lissie was a live performance of her song Ojai on a local indie radio station- and it stuck me. I had teared up by the final notes and also had found and shared it with every person I held close to my heart that I thought would receive the vibes she was expressing.  Lullaby/love-poem and break-up with a geographical location balled all in one. Her delivery was like honey mixed with desert sand.

Live in person, she summoned the same grit and grace.  Her voice powerful and her songs meaningful. I spent a lot of the set simply entranced by her sheer talent.  She also had an incredibly strong backing band with a fierce-ass female for the guitar and one on bass as well.

She was coy about playing her newly released songs, but the truther was while they are a bit different style-wise they blended quite smoothly into her existing body of work. The new album, Castles, she suggests be listened to with shuffle OFF (gasp)- and played from beginning to end like a story and preferably on vinyl  

She closed the show by inviting the audience into her space,  sitting on the edge of the stage and eventually bounding out into the crowd during “Little Lovin’ off Catching a Tiger. It was a revival-esque finale, complete with clapping, dancing, harmonies, call-and-answer and of course- jumping.

As the lights came up people were momentarily stunned- murmurs of “she was… AMAZING” and general awe bubbled up.  I left assured in my understanding that there is music in Lissie’s marrow, and it was very cool to share that with her.

Words by Larissa Nemeth | Stills by Cristina Byrne