Back home in Ojai, California’s Lissie lives in a farmhouse with a friendly hound, surrounded by rich golden corn fields, warm evening breezes and want-away neighbours like Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. When she’s not potting plants or filtering tractor oil she’s swinging in a hammock on her sun-bathed porch. If this all begins by sounding a bit Little House On The Prairie that’s because it is. In the slightly grimmer reality of a cold winter’s evening in London, Lissie travels without the baggage of a surname – Maurus since you ask – and ambles on stage with two friends (one dreadlocked, one bearded, naturally). But any preconceptions that she’s a major label’s timely pushcart (she has just signed up with Sony), in a cash trail laid by Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons et al, soon diminish. The cute freckles on her press shots might be brushed in but there’s certainly nothing fake about her voice – a tornado-sized whisking of Stevie Nicks and Martha Wainwright. You can see why Band Of Horses’ Bill Reynolds got involved and produced her debut EP last year. Oscillating between Laura Marling and KT Tunstall, Lissie’s songs are one moment boot-stomping yee-hawing American highway anthems, and another, red-earth-quaking heartbreakers. Closer ‘Little Lovin’’ showcases this the best – a whispy hay-bail that gathers pace and ends with the singer spitting her own hair from her mouth.
Originally published in issue 14 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2010