Lissie – When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective

Lissie - When I'm AloneFor decades, artist compilations like Greatest Hits and Best Ofs served their purpose for better or for worse depending on who you ask, but in the streaming era when an artist’s entire discography (singles and non-singles) can be made into playlists by the listener, they’ve become rather pointless. Lissie‘s approach to looking back on her decade of recordings is to redo the songs that might have made up her hypothetical Best Of compilation. When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective showcases some of her singles, album tracks and a couple covers with just her and a piano.

The songs themselves don’t change much from their original versions, other than the removal of the other instruments, but the arrangements remain largely the same. This works with songs that already lended themselves to a more simpler arrangement such as Castles and When I’m Alone, but on tracks like Daughters and Best Days, what’s missing feels more apparent.

Read about Lissie’s previous albums

The thing that stands out most on the album are her vocals. They’ve taken the spotlight on each of her four studio albums but here, they shine brighter than ever. Songs like Sleepwalking and Everywhere I Go go above and beyond the original studio recordings as far as her vocals are concerned.

The album contains two covers, a pleasant version of the Dixie ChicksCowboy Take Me Away, which capitalizes on that song’s yearning lyrics of escaping to solitude. The other is Fleetwood Mac‘s Dreams, a song long overdone through both live and studio covers by many artists over the decades. There’s little Lissie could have done to breathe new life into the song and it marks a missed opportunity on the album. It would have been awesome, for example, to hear her take on their song Everywhere.

When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective offers a pleasant range of songs from Lissie’s catalogue. All of them stand on their own with just a piano accompanying them, but none offer anything that their original versions don’t have. At times Lissie sounds tired, almost bored, and little attempt is made to give the songs new life. They’re simply there. A voice as unique with songs as captivating as hers have so much more to offer. Perhaps a live album might have been a better approach.

Two Stars

1. Don’t You Give Up On Me
2. Sleepwalking
3. Everywhere I Go
4. Castles
5. When I’m Alone
6. Love Blows
7. Dreams
8. Daughters
9. Best Days
10. Cowboy Take Me Away
11. In Sleep

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