At 25, Lillie Mae is already a seasoned country lifer | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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At 25, Lillie Mae is already a seasoned country lifer


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Lillie Mae Rische has spent the bulk of her 25 years playing music. She began singing with her father and siblings in the Forrest Carter Family Band at age three, and added fiddle four years later. The group played around Branson, Missouri, and toured RV parks in Texas for donations, and after her parents split up, she and her siblings formed Jypsi, a middle-of-the-road country band that made a failed album for Arista in 2008. By the time Jack White enlisted her as a touring musician and collaborator on his 2014 album Lazaretto, she was a seasoned pro with country music coursing through her blood. She penned all of the tunes on her 2017 solo album Forever and Then Some (Third Man), cowriting a few with her mandolin-playing sister Scarlett Rische. Produced by White, the record includes contributions from a number of her Jypsi bandmates and friends, including longtime collaborators bassist Brian Zonn and drummer Tanner Jacobson. It embraces an infectiously rustic country-folk sound with lots of hot picking, and is distinguished by a sharp melodic tang that underlines the influence of Lucinda Williams. Rische applies her crystalline Dolly Parton-ish twang to songs that bring a poetic urgency to blossoming, flourishing, or failing romance. On the ballad “Loaner” she deftly grapples with the difficulty of moving on from a relationship that’s spent while allowing for one last tryst, singing: “Oh it’s a loaner / You can’t take it with you / But you can take me home tonight.” “These Daze” describes the creeping realization that a lover is pulling away, detailing his passive-aggressive gestures, such as declining to take the singer by the arm “’cause you’re afraid someone might see me there by your side.”   v

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