"I think this album has two personalities," Lisa Palleschi says of her debut, Released. "Half the songs are really pretty ballads, love songs, and the other half are more in-your-face, rock songs."

Indeed, Released is chock full of humanity: Its songs map the extreme ups and downs that every person experiences. It's full of love (the sensuous, lush cover of The Cure's classic "Just Like Heaven") and heartbreak (the scornful "I Wanna See You Cry"). And the big-voiced Long Island, N.Y. born siren wouldn't have it any other way.

Ranging from the sweeping to the sweet, the beautifully-performed and recorded songs composing Released include the title track, first single "Learning How to Love Again" (the No. 1 most added A/C single in its first week) and "This is Me," which chart the frustration, love and romantic despair the young chanteuse has experienced in her life, and she's looking to connect with those who have felt the same. The songs are real and genuine, like Lisa herself.

Dishing on her own experiences is a relatively new thing for the graceful, gorgeous 20 -something year-old, who grew up with plans to simply interpret other people's music. But after a few years at the esteemed Berklee College of Music, she fell in love with songwriting, and began to keep a song journal whose contents formed the foundation for Released. "Initially, I just wanted to bring other peoples' material to life, but you get so much more satisfaction out of creating something that sounds beautiful yourself." "I think with the success of shows like American Idol, people are starting to pay more attention to the singer. It is not just about being young or pretty. You have to undeniably be a vocalist to be noticed. And that's good news for me."

Lisa triggered the spark for Released when she returned home after graduation, nearly going mad from moving back into to her childhood bedroom, she says with a laugh. After five years away from home, she was back in Long Island and just "began to feel trapped inside, and I just wanted to be released."

With the song "Released" and four others, she fatefully cut a demo in 2003 in a small Long Island studio owned by Richie Cannata, a collaborator with Billy Joel. Through the help of Steven C. Beer of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, she began traveling to New York, L.A. and Nashville to co-write and hone both her voice and her songs with the likes of such co-producers/co-writers as Jeff Franzel (Taylor Dayne, Clay Aiken, Shawn Colvin), Adrian Gurvitz (Sheryl Crow, Meredith Brooks, Steve Perry), Frank Filipetti (James Taylor, Carly Simon, The Color Purple) and Tom Kimmel (Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel).

The 12 songs on the disc range from the post-break-up tune "New Beginning" ("It's about taking risks and not being afraid to fall on your ass!") to "Lightyears Away," which reminds us to live in the moment: "It's about not worrying about little stupid petty stuff, tomorrow those things will seem light years away." If she reaffirms in "Already Gone" that karma is a boomerang, in "Once Upon A Time," she "was thinking about all the people in the world who never followed through on what they really wanted to do in life."

Lisa of course would not fall into that category. From an early age, she set out on a musical path. Her love affair began in her pre-teens, when she found herself singing in front of the mirror, and glued to oldies stations: "I loved the love songs; the corny songs. All my friends would say, 'What the hell's wrong with you?'. When her girlfriends latched onto New Kids On The Block, she was listening to Heart and Pat Benatar, two of her all-time faves. As she entered her teens, her tastes got continually diverse. She fell in love with Celine Dion and U2 simultaneously. Of Dion, she says, "I remember hearing her early on, that powerhouse voice, and thinking, 'That's what I want to do.'"

Taking piano lessons at an early age, and singing in musicals in high school, she began performing in cabarets in New York City before graduating. "I used to sing at this place called Danny's. I was 17 years old; it was just me and a piano player and I sang songs like "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion, Elvis' "Love Me Tender" and musical theater numbers like "Almost Like Being In Love."

During her first year at Berklee, she and a friend wrote "Secret Sin," a song about a mutual attraction and budding relationship. "It's about a girl telling a guy to open up and let her into his world. No one really has to know, it could be their 'Secret Sin.'"

But it wasn't until after college, when she penned "Released" that her career and her talents began to open up: "The lyrics flowed instantly and easily. I hardly had to write it at all. It's basically about being trapped inside yourself and in your mind, and that's how I was feeling when I wrote it."

As much as she enjoys writing and recording, the stage is where the performer shines brightest. And it's where she most enjoys being: "I feel secure in the natural and emotional power of my voice onstage. I am at peace onstage. I just love the reaction from the crowd, the adrenalin, and the connection you feel with a fan. I'm in my own world, and nothing can bother me-and that's why I think I love it so much."

It was while she was showcasing at Manhattan's Cutting Room and The Bitter End where she caught the ear of Lightyear Entertainment. While Lisa has played with a host of local New York talent live, on Released, she is backed by a cast of musicians with stellar credits: drummer Nir Z (John Mayer, Jason Mraz), guitarist Ira Siegel (Donna Summer, Celine Dion), bassist Zev Katz (Billy Joel) and keyboardist and arranger Steve Skinner (Jewel, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack).

"I think anybody can relate to Released, and I'm really proud of that. That's what's special about it to me. The album is full of universal emotions and stories, so in a way it's timeless. And that's the type of album I was trying to create."