Short Takes on Three Albums

Lissie - Catching a Tiger

Lissie - Catching a Tiger

LissieCatching a Tiger
Fat Possum

http://www.lissie.com/

My first exposure to Lissie was the excellent “Little Lovin'” – a magical tune that straddles the lines between all out pop and alt-country. The song first appeared on her EP Why You Runnin (also a Fat Possum release) last year. I love this infectious song in all its hand-clapping glory. Lissie’s voice is superb, the music is upbeat, and you will definitely sing along. Catching a Tiger is one of those situations where you ruin the surprise by peeking at the presents. Although most of the songs here are good, there’s too much Sheryl Crow and not enough Neko Case for my tastes. There is a lot of substance here, so take a chance if you haven’t already been spoiled.

Betsy Franck and the BareKnuckle Band - Still Waiting

Betsy Franck and the BareKnuckle BandStill Waiting
Self-Released

http://www.myspace.com/betsyfranck

This Athens, GA band has been together for close to a decade and have apparently made their way around the Southern circuit to some success. Still Waiting, the group’s second release, is eight songs of bluesy-rock peppered with bits of soul, Gospel, and country. The keys and horns on songs like “Lowdown” and “Backbone” are nice touches that help fill out the overall sound the group is aiming for. The only thing missing for me is that extra goose pimple oomph. Perhaps Betsy Franck and the BareKnuckle Band are best live, which wouldn’t be a surprise given the mix of styles they present. On Still Waiting I’m left wanting something a little harder and definitely a lot grittier than the mostly radio-ready blues-rock being offered up by Betsy Franck and the BareKnuckle Band.

Kathryn Williams - Relations

Kathryn WilliamsRelations
One Little Indian (US, 2010/UK, 2004)

http://www.kathrynwilliams.net/

Apparently Kathryn Williams is a quite well known singer-songwriter in the United Kingdom, but I have to admit I’d never heard of her before listening to Relations. The 14-song album was originally released in the UK in 2004 and finds itself re-released this year on One Little Indian in the United States. Relations is a collection of cover songs that are approached in a fairly straightforward folk manner. Williams’ cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is particularly pretty, as is her version of Jackson Browne’s “These Days”. Many of the songs are given a light string treatment, which works perfectly with Kathryn’s overall vibe. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully appreciate re-releases; this one is definitely worth checking out even if you’ve never heard of Kathryn Williams.