Every week we will be showcasing installments from a special artist discovery series for bands playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival this October from local websites hand-picked by the ACL Festival faithful. This installment comes from Sunset In The Rearview featuring Lissie.
Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when Jenny (read: Jenn-nay) performs live at a bar? Forget the fact that she was naked and that there were dirty men in the bar, and just think about how epic the scene was: beautiful Jenny playing guitar, singing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.” If you’re anything like me, you would love to have been around in the ‘60’s to witness the hippy movement and beautiful moments like this one. And since I’m still fine-tuning my handmade time machine, I have an alternate solution for the time being: she goes by the name of Lissie.
Born in 1982 by the name of Elisabeth Maurus, singer and songwriter Lissie might as well be a modern-day Jenny Gump. With hair uncombed, a voice that’s timeless, and a bit of a rebellious past, she plays the role of Jenny perfectly. Her voice carries an aura of soul that transports me straight to the 60’s. But beyond similar stories and sounds, there’s more to this comparison that makes perfect sense to me. Both are able to perform terrific covers of songs that are almost impossible to reproduce without sounding utterly inferior to the original. Jenny hit a Bob Dylan out of the ballpark, and Lissie has done the same with multiple songs. Most notably, perhaps, is her cover of “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi.
As a Kid Cudi fanatic, I consider covering his music dangerous territory. I am very likely to produce a very negative review of anybody trying to replicate his unique style. Somehow, though, Lissie did it perfectly. After admitting to having to take a shot of tequila before performing this wildly popular song, she added her own spin to a masterpiece and her energy genuinely made me believe that she, too, is on the pursuit of happiness.
There’s something more about Lissie that draws me to her. Her folk sound and her unkempt appearance make me curious; I want to know what’s going on inside that head of hers. Despite her mastery of covering popular songs, however, she seems to desperately want to define herself as an independent. I cannot help but remind myself that Lissie was expelled from high school after spitting in a teacher’s face. She defended herself by saying that she felt the need to rebel in her younger years because she wanted to be different. Later, she decided to embark on a college semester abroad, but decided soon after to quit school altogether because of her need to feel independent. She didn’t want anybody telling her where to go and what to do. So why is it, then, that Lissie begs of such answers in her song, “Everywhere I Go?”
And I fall, on my knees, tell me how’s the way to be,
Tell me how’s the way to go,
Tell me all that I should know.
I’m left without being able to pin down or understand Lissie, but there is something magical in that. Her unpredictability and her flawless voice have led her to become one of my favorite artists of late, and for this I was jumping for joy when her newest album, Catching a Tiger was released in the US last Tuesday, August 17th. So meanwhile, as I toil away at constructing my time machine, I’ll be able to tolerate the long hours and late nights because I know that in my near future lies a break from my efforts. With my ticket to Austin City Limits, where Lissie is scheduled to perform, I may also have a ticket in hand to the 1960’s. I hope you’ll join me on my trip and my quest for answers during Lissie’s live performance at on the afternoon of Saturday, October 9th at The ZYNC Stage.
Written by Lydia Simmons