Singer/songwriter Lissie grabbed our attention earlier this summer with a series of buzzed-about covers, including Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" and Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." But we weren't the only ones to take notice. Lissie garnered praise from the likes of California Gurl Katy Perry, filmmaker David Lynch and blogger/trendsetter Perez Hilton.
"It's nice to get some praise from time to time," Lissie told MTV News. "That's just human, you need it. But I think it's exciting. And I also, though ... personally I'm one of those people that's like, 'Oh the new buzzed-about person' ... I feel like it almost gives it too much expectation 'cause it's been made out to be so great that then you have really high standards to meet. But it's great. I think I can rise to that. I think that right now, I feel like I'm in a good stride and I got it going on."
That attitude — part playful, part modest — can be attributed to her Midwestern roots. Lissie grew up the youngest of four kids in Rock Island, Illinois — part of the Quad City area along the Mississippi River. She remembers cookouts in the summer, going to the pool and her mom's well-kept garden. The city's website even boasts its tie for second place as "one of the best mannered cities in the United States."
While Lissie has since relocated to the artsy community of Ojai, California, it was a trip back home that inspired her Kid Cudi cover. After a late night of daiquiris with her childhood best friend at the appropriately titled Daiquiri Factory (which serves $4 U-Call-It Bombs on Fridays), Lissie had her first encounter with the "Day 'N Nite" MC.
"I was having this really [nostalgic] moment of being in my hometown, like, 'Ahh yeah' windows rolled down, and she puts on 'Pursuit of Happiness' and I'm like 'I love this song' because he's like 'rolling the Midwest side out, living my life.' " Ten spins later, Lissie was set on covering her fellow Midwesterner.
The attention generated online from that cover — Kid Cudi even posted it on his Facebook page — fueled interest in what Lissie could offer in the way of original material. That time has finally come with the release of her debut album this week, Catching a Tiger.
Recorded under producer Jacquire King, who helmed Kings of Leon's smash Only by the Night, it's a bittersweet collection of songs about love and heartache. Take, for instance, the album's first single, "In Sleep," written after the breakup of her long-term relationship.
"I'd have these great dreams, like everything was fine and we were together and life was happy and everything's good," Lissie recalled. "That would be the place where I could see him and I would wake up from that dream and it was like the reality is that we're not together anymore and I need to get over it and move on with my life — which is gonna take some time but it's going to hurt until it stops hurting, and that's all right too."
With other album standouts such as "When I'm Alone" and "Cuckoo," will Lissie develop the same kind of following as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, which Perez Hilton helped propel? The man himself speculates.
"I don't know how popular Lissie's going to be in America," Hilton said. "I'm thrilled that MTV is doing this little profile on her and I'm equally excited that she's getting a lot of traction in the U.K. But will radio in the United States start playing Lissie? Probably not. However, I love those success stories of artists that can become successful without going about it the traditional way, without radio play."
Will you buy Lissie's new album? Tell us in the comments.