*On Saturday 3rd December, Lissie Maurus (aka Lissie) performs at the O2 Institute – with support from Teddy Thompson.
Words by Ed King
It’s impossible to review Live at Union Chapel without cherry picking the ebbs and flows of Lissie Maurus’ musical career. But I guess that’s part of the point.
Lissie’s second live album (from a London venue too) was released in November 2016 – with a set list of great, good and go on then from the artist’s three previous studio albums. All acoustic, all solo; there is nothing hiding the musician from her music in this …Union Chapel LP. And since the release of her first autonomous album in February 2016, My Wild West, that vulnerable yet powerful premise is somewhat defining.
Live at Union Chapel starts with ‘Bully’, a tried and tested album track from Catching a Tiger with the name of her debut LP in the first stanza. It works as it should do, with the easy, inescapable melody delivered across the venue’s renowned acoustics. ‘And we are so damn proud of you’.
…Union Chapel’s second track, ‘Shameless’, is more of a production swerve ball – coming from the less well received Back to Forever, which is as far away from a stripped back acoustic set as you could run whilst holding a guitar. And whilst I’ll usually plumb for the less glitzy approach, I prefer the heavier production on the album track – although the acerbic nature of Maurus’ songwriting is much clearer when belted down the isles of the north London blasphemy.
‘Sun Keeps Rising’ is the third track on …Union Chapel and the first from Lissie’s self released LP, My Wild West. With a softer, dark, mournful timbre, ‘Sun Keeps Rising’ is a claw to the heart – delivered this time through six strings not 236. Maurus has always been a solid songwriter, but it is towards the end of ‘Sun Keeps Rising’ that we get the first proper mouthful of Lissie’s exceptional vocals.
Outside a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’, and why not, the remaining eight tracks on Live at Union Chapel repeat the triptych – although the beautifully controlled and addictive ‘They All Want You’ is the only other track from Back to Forever.
And this is perhaps the only swing/miss of this Lissie‘s sophomore live LP. Whilst listening to Live at Union Chapel I am left wanting some of the production cotton wool from tracks such as ‘In Sleep’ and ‘Hero’, yet every acoustic outing from Back to Forever shows just how prolific a songwriter Maurus can be.
I liked Lissie’s second album – for different reasons to its predecessor, but for the same strength in lyrics and melody. And performed with nothing but nylon and vocal chords it’s difficult to argue otherwise.
I’d have been tempted to wrap that around a brick and throw it through some windows before crossing the Atlantic again.
Live at Union Chapel by Lissie Maurus is out now, released through Lionboy Records, Cooking Vinyl and Thirty Tigers. My Wild West was released in February 2016.
For more on Lissie, visit www.lissie.com