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Emerging at the dawn of the 2010s with her debut album Catching a Tiger, Lissie defied easy categorization. A singer/songwriter with a gift for soft melodies and delicate surfaces who nevertheless demonstrated a quiet strength at her core, Lissie is a native of the American midwest but found her greatest success in the U.K., which embraced not only Catching a Tiger but made her 2018 album, Castles, a Top Ten record nearly a decade later. Between those two albums, Lissie didn't sit still. She teamed with Jacknife Lee for the glossy 2013 set Back to Forever, then began the process of stripping her music back to its emotional roots with 2016's My Wild West, a journey that reached its apex with Carving Canyons, a 2022 album where she processed personal loss through the prism of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lissie Maurus was raised in the riverside town of Rock Island, Illinois and she drew upon those blue-collar Midwestern origins to create her own form of indie folk music. The granddaughter of an international barbershop quartet champion, she grew up singing in theater productions, eventually picking up the guitar and playing her own songs at local coffee shops as a teenager. Lissie was also something of a rebel; she got thrown out of high school during her senior year, spent a brief period at Colorado State University, relocated to Paris for a semester, and eventually ditched college altogether to pursue her music career. Returning to the U.S., Lissie headed west and settled in Los Angeles, where she became a fixture on the local venue circuit and landed a national tour opening for Lenny Kravitz. Lissie's music had already appeared on shows like The O.C., Veronica Mars, and House by the time she moved to California, and she widened her fan base by launching a weekly songwriter's circle at her local bar, Crane's Hollywood Tavern, and releasing a self-titled EP. Things truly began picking up speed in 2009, though, when Lissie released the dusky Why You Runnin' (partly recorded in the U.K.) and toured the country alongside Ray LaMontagne. Although she also made several appearances in America -- including a standout performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and a single date with the rebooted Lilith Fair -- Lissie spent most of her time touring Europe, where her debut record, Catching a Tiger, was released in June. An American release followed in August, courtesy of Fat Possum Records. Featuring production from a handful of artists including Jacquire King, Julian Emery, and Ed Harcourt, Catching a Tiger built upon Lissie's folkie California sound with a commercial appeal that helped land it in the Top Five of the U.S. Billboard Folk Albums chart and number 12 on the U.K. Albums chart. After an extensive period touring, particularly in the U.K., Lissie returned to the studio in 2012 with producer Garrett "Jacknife" Lee -- who had also produced albums for Snow Patrol and Robbie Williams -- to work on a follow-up. In October 2013, Lissie delivered her second full-length album, the glossy, '80s soft rock-influenced Back to Forever. The covers EP Cryin' to You followed a year later. In 2016, Lissie released her third studio effort, the Curt Schneider-produced My Wild West. Recorded in Los Angeles, Ojai, and Nashville, the album had a moody, noir-ish feel. It debuted at 16 in the U.K. and 171 on Billboard and was followed in the autumn by Live at Union Chapel. Lissie relocated to Iowa in 2017 and wrote the album that became Castles, a stripped-back, direct record released in March 2018. She continued to pare things down on 2019's When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective, which featured solo piano versions of her old songs. In 2021, she issued Watch Over Me, a collection of unreleased works from the early stages of her career. Lissie reteamed with producer Curt Schneider for Carving Canyons, a 2022 album where she explored the emotional fallout of a breakup that happened during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Andrew Leahey /TiVo


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