Jessica Lea Mayfield
The 23-year old from Kent, Ohio first performed with her family band One Way Rider at the age of 8. At age 15, she recorded her first album White Lies in her brother’s bedroom, printing only 100 copies. One of those copies fell into the hands of Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). After an introduction, Mayfield and Auerbach hit the studio, laying the foundation for her debut album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Says Auerbach of the recording experience, “I think she’s dark and moody in a mysterious way.” He adds, “I’m just always really excited to make music with her.”
Mayfield’s second and most recent album, Tell Me, is a stunningly forthright 11-song set that addresses late night longing, serial heartbreak, and intoxicatingly dangerous liaisons conducted in dimly lit barrooms or roadside motels. By the end, the only heart intact is Mayfield’s own. It’s as if she’d stripped the sentimentality and ruefulness from a bunch of classic country songs, leaving only stark emotion. Auerbach also produced and engineered Tell Me at his Easy Eye Sound System studio in Akron, Ohio, matching Mayfield’s candor with eerily minimal, brilliantly constructed tracks that keep her mesmerizing, unadorned voice front and center.
The New York Times hailed the album a Critics’ Pick, while the Associated Press calls Tell Me “the portrait of a precocious girl growing into self-assured womanhood and a producer reaching the peak of his powers. It is a dark and moody album, full of delights throughout, and if it doesn’t make Mayfield a star, that too will be heartbreaking.”
Israel Nash has fully embraced the meandering hills and endless skies of his new Central Texas home. Having relocated from New York City, the songwriter has found himself surrounded by land so isolated that it is not uncommon to be crossed by a tumbleweed or to hear the percussive warning of an agitated rattlesnake. There is an unease that comes with the visual thrill of living in the untainted lone star hills, and Nash’s newest album, Rain Plans, is like a sonic acquiescence of this fact. As a writer, Nash’s songs have always been poignant, but never before has his music sounded so haunting and contemplative. Electric guitar leads wind in and out of these new songs like curious spirits, with steel guitar bending and soothing the ache of the subtle melodies. Reverb enraptures the listener like a child running in slow motion through white sheets hanging from clotheslines. Rain Plans is a testament to the overwhelming grandeur of nature and our place in it. These songs are about finding solace in family and the fear of the future; knowing what you’ll never know and the uncertainty that comes with that knowledge. At times melancholy celebrations and at other times standoffish guitar rock, Nash’s new surroundings have helped him create a tone only hinted at in his previous work, and a songwriting sophistication that comes with great time and effort. With allusions to Lefty Frizzell, Lou Reed, and Neil Young on Rain Plans, Israel Nash is a songwriter’s songwriter. His performances, tight and effectual, are equally inspired no matter the venue, with songs occasionally broken up by his dry sense of humor. Rain Plans is new territory for him, both literally and figuratively, as well as an expression of his finding a strange sort of direction in the fragility of existence. It’s an effort as delicate as plucking a cactus flower, but, luckily for Israel, he now has plenty of flowers to choose from.
Rain Plans will be available in North America Summer 2014.
A reclusive, itinerant, gypsy-like, indie-rock bluesman, most recently spotted on the Western Coast of the United States. Gunton takes American roots music and makes it bloom into his own weird tree. He is not afraid of harmonicas or organs. And he worships Rock N Roll with a religious fervor. At times he lives in monastic, Brian Wilson-like seclusion, occasionally spotted on the streets of San Francisco pasty and demented, harmonizing to himself. Other times he is more sociable, and has a firm handshake, a strong drink, and lots of woman troubles. He is the founder and spiritual leader of the San Francisco music collective known as The Cult Of Gunton. He is grateful that you just read all this meaningless horseshit. He'll buy you a drink for it when he sees you next if he has the cash.