Lissie‘s speaking voice sounds exactly as you would imagine it – low, soothing, and slightly raspy. When she used her unique voice to sing to a crowd at the Royale in November, she proved that her voice can sing songs ranging from slow melancholy to energetic rock ‘n roll. Toss in a few hip-hop covers along with hit songs off her latest album and old favorites, then you’ve got yourself a Lissie concert.

Lissie truly seems like your girl-next-door. She appears on stage without much of a grand entrance and greets the audience, beer in hand, and says a few quick words into the microphone. She is wearing black skinny jeans, black boots, and a loose black T-shirt. Her blonde hair is characteristically mussed up and she looks comfortable and energetic enough to go outside to throw around a football. But she’s here to play music, and before long, she has a guitar in her hand strumming out some loud, clear chords.

Lissie plays a variety of songs, from ones off her older albums to songs off her brand new album Back To Forever as well as some covers. She backs up her singing with simple electric guitar chords and a band consisting of three dudes, one on bass, one on drums, and one also on electric guitar. Her raspy voice sounds more raw live as it cracks every once in a while in the middle of a song. Lissie alternates between an upbeat song and a more subdued song, adding variety to the set and to give her a break between more energetic songs. She even takes 30 seconds between songs to roll her shoulders, crack her neck, occasionally switch guitars, and take a sip of what she claims is tea. “I have tequila too, but this is tea,” Lissie confesses, and everybody laughs.

During her breaks, she chats with the audience a bit. Sometimes she introduces her songs very literally. “This is a song I wrote when I felt like I was kind of losing my marbles,” she explains before performing “Shroud”, a song in which she croons the lyrics “I feel like I have lost my mind”. Sometimes she tells stories about some very dedicated fans, like the story of a guy named Kevin who owns a restaurant in Boston and serves a dish he calls “Lissie’s Chili”. “We’re gonna eat it later,” admits Lissie. She even has a sense of humor, revealing to the audience that “we have a few more songs before we pretend to leave.”

What Lissie really has a knack for is covers. After her allusion to playing an encore, she doesn’t keep the audience waiting long before she reenters the stage. I’m sure most of the audience is anxious to hear the cover she’s most famous for – Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” – but instead, she decides that “we’re gonna let you vote”. The vote came down to “Pursuit of Happiness” and a newer song, Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”, and the voting method consisted of audience cheers. “We try to only do one cover a night,” she says. “We only have until 9:35 until the discotheque starts,” she says, alluding to the Royale inevitably kicking her out so that they can turn what is now a concert venue into a night club, “so do we have time for two songs?”

After a few rough starts and start-overs to “Hold On We’re Going Home”, her and the band finally get the song going. Lissie transposes Drake’s hip-hop beats into her classic pop-rock sound, beautifully building up from a single guitar accompaniment to a drum-heavy chorus. And of course, she plays the crowd favorite, “Pursuit of Happiness”, too, to the loudest cheers and sing-alongs of the night. The audience is in for one more treat as she plays a song she wrote about growing up on the Mississippi river, a stripped-down slightly hymnal song in which she gently sings the lyrics, “oh mighty river… carry these stories from north to south”.

Lissie does indeed seem most famous for her covers, but that doesn’t seem to bother her. She seems to enjoy playing covers just as much as she enjoys playing her original songs. At the end of the day, Lissie is just a girl who just wants to jam. She grabs a few hands reaching out from the audience before exiting for real this time, most likely thinking about that bowl of Lissie’s Chili waiting for her to gobble up backstage.

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