Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch, 2011)
The first 2011 album that I’ve completely fallen in love with. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s previous album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt was already a rather convincing effort and made it on my end of the year list back in 2008. The album showcased a huge amount of talent and now this 21-year-old songwriter from Kent, Ohio is totally ready to enter into the major league.
Jessica Lea Mayfield might not be the most technically gifted vocalist and she might not have the highest range of voice, but I find her calm and mellow voice totally irresistible and captivating. That voice never fails to carry her dark-flavoured and emotion-filled words into my veins. She is a fabulous songwriter and have been able to create a magical album. I pretty much love every song on the album. Tell Me certainly has a moody and sad tone, but I don’t find it depressive or miserable at all. Her declarative brokenhearted confessions are haunting and able to cause a serene havoc inside me, but they also inject a giant dose of pure, honest and intimate human feelings into the core of my heart and suddenly the warmness surrounds and I can see the sunshine again.
Dan Auerbach has done an excellent job with the production, have kept things relatively down-to-earth and have just added some colour and vision. One could so easily destroy such a beautiful album with overproducing, but Dan has done the right thing and lets Jessica Lea Mayfield’s charm and presence carry the album. I’m kind of surprised that the drum loops didn’t scare me off at all. Usually that’s the kind of stuff that annoys me and I start to search live acoustic versions of the same songs from youtube. There’s one thing that annoys me though and I would really like to say a couple of rude words to the person responsible for adding those uhh & ahh noises to the background of the title track Tell Me. I really hate that. It almost spoils otherwise great song and almost took away the otherwise truly deserved five hearts grade.
I find it hard to categorize her (and why should I categorize her?). There’s certainly a lot of folk and americana in her songs, but that’s only a part of her beautifully crafted soundscape. Maybe one part of folk music and one part of dreamy & moody indie rock like Josh Haden’s Spain might get you at least around the same neighborhood. I don’t really know, but thankfully the only things I need to know are that a) I love her b) she has created a wonderful album.
Jessica Lea Mayfield “Run Myself Into The Ground” from American Songwriter on Vimeo.
Jessica Lea Mayfield Website