Album Review: Lissie – Watch Over Me

Hot on the heels of her re-release of her breakthrough album Catching A Tiger to celebrate its tenth anniversary, American country singer songwriter Lissie has released a retrospective covering her early career from 2002 to 2009.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Elaine Constantine

Called Watch Over Me, the title is inspired by the album’s opening track of the same name. A simple ballad in which Lissie accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, it is quintessential country and contains the melancholic storytelling lyrics that would become her trademark throughout her career. It’s less than two minutes long and doesn’t have the bombast of the hits that made her name, but sometimes less can be more.

Track two Hey Boy has the expansive, emotive feel with which those of us who came to Lissie’s work through Catching A Tiger are more familiar, along with the rawness of an artist still finding her sound. Through this lens Watch Over Me starts to feel like an origin story, as Lissie moves from country singer to superstar. This narrative holds through On My Chest and No Sense At All, exhibiting a range of styles and experimental forms but the same core of heartbreak in the lyrics.

The album’s centre-piece All Be Okay was released last month as a teaser. Written after two years in LA, and surrounded by a warm and welcoming community of musicians it perfectly capture the emotion of being hopeful yet vulnerable with one eye on the future and the other looking over your shoulder. In many ways it echoes the album’s purpose – to be a retrospective but to speak to what is to come.

Call Out The Beast slows things down introducing a run of introspective tracks which includes the wistful It’s The Alcohol and the jangly Wishing On A Star and culminates in the album closer Simple Woman. A live rendition, it feels like a time warp to her early shows and provides an acoustic mirror to the album opener.

While Watch Over Me is definitely aimed at existing Lissie fans, it’s also a wonderful introduction for those coming to her music for the first time. It’s great that these early tracks have been given a new life in this collection.

Watch Over Me (Early Years 2002-2009) will be released on 23 July 2021.