The dead of winter seems like an appropriate time for a visit from Lissie Maurus.

The dead of winter seems like an appropriate time for a visit from Lissie Maurus.

The Fat Possum signee's teary-eyed balladry should strike a chord with those who miss the days when Cat Power was a nervous wreck making whispery sad stuff instead of smoky white man's blooze. She's for folks who like the subtle intimacy of Neko Case albums better than the sugary bombast of New Pornographers albums.

Even her more rapturous moments like "Little Lovin'" - sounding like a spry, soulful update on Bob Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" - are imbued with doubt and despair. Sometimes the darkness shines through without compromise: "Wedding bells will never ring for me."

"Everywhere I Go" is despairing balladry done to perfection. Unfortunately, sometimes she also sounds fit to be slotted between Jewel and Sarah McLachlan on Lilith Fair, as on the gospel piano ballad "Oh Mississippi." Why You Runnin'?, she asks. That's why.