Sunday, March 6, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD - TELL ME
Mining the same kind of Southern Gothic/dark romance territory, and with a similar drawl, Mayfield is going to appeal to those looking for a young Lucinda. There's some Tammy Wynette and some trailer trash, too. But, as this is produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, as was her first album, there's lots of toughness and punk that ain't gonna go over too well on the right-wing side of the radio dial.
The girlish qualities of her voice are appealing, since it gives all the songs the feel of old mountain music, like she's about to break into a chorus of "the cuckoo she's a pretty bird". Even the most straight-ahead pretty song, Blues Skies Again, with it's oo-la-la vocals, has a sloppiness that's endearing, like this group of musicians couldn't hit the Top 10 even if they wrote a Rihanna song. Mayfield could sing murder ballads that would scare Johnny Cash.
On the fifth cut, Grown Man, and then sprinkled throughout, we are introduced to another quirk in the mix, a cheesy old synth. It turns out it's a big part of her live group, as her brother David contributes the Casio to that song, and such keyed appliances as the Moog, Mellotron and Waterphone. Along with Auerbach, he is the only other constant player, providing everything from bass (upright and electric), lead guitar and drums. There's some downright wacky things going on with loops and vocal whooshes on Nervous Lonely Night, to accompany Jessica Lea's question of "Will you still be my friend when I go crazy?" Somewhere in Ohio, there's a former boyfriend still looking behind him as he runs away.
Appearing at the ever-trendy Drake Hotel in Toronto on April 4th.