Autopsy IV note: A couple of nights back I posted a help wanted post on the site in an effort to find some additional (and consistent) contributors. For the time being I am gonna post their posts as guest posts for a little while as we nail down the site since the great spam hack of 2011 and as they prove who will be consistent and who’s gonna decide this bloggery isn’t for them.
This post comes from 9B contributor pledge Old Sad Bastard. Lemme know what you guys think.
When I first saw Jessica Lea Mayfield play live, on tour with Lucero in 2008, she was supporting here first record, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. I was won over by her live show, especially her brother’s upright bass antics, and picked up the album immediately. After listening to it I gained a healthy appreciation for Mayfield’s songwriting chops, memorable voice and biting lyrics. I also had her squarely pegged in my mind as “country”, whatever that means.
I was expecting more of the same when Tell Me was released this year, but was pleasantly surprised. As the album took over the college radio charts (at least here in California) I discovered a much more sophisticated album that is still catchy as hell. If you ask me, this is a country album that nods none too subtly to Mayfield’s rock influences, and to producer/co-conspirator Dan Auerbach’s time in The Black Keys. The twang is still there, but this time its is augmented with some dreamy pop and psych rock moments. The arrangements still feel spare and transparent, but go far beyond traditional Americana with added keys, synths, and even electronic beats. (Yes, a drum machine. Don’t knock it till you’ve heard it.) “Nervous Lonely Night” even has some ooo-oohs, but they seem totally natural.
The shift in sound hasn’t brightened Mayfield’s lyrics any, but when her dark musings on heartbreak, sex and love are combined with such catchy, engaging music the overall feel is almost hopeful. Its totally cliché to say that an artists has matured from one album to the next, but now that she is finally old enough to legally drink in the clubs she has been playing for years, Jessica Lea Mayfield’s sound is more developed, more mature and pretty damn good.