Ohio singer-songwriters dabbles in dark but dreamy countrified grunge
Jessica Lea Mayfield grew up touring in her Kent, Ohio family’s bluegrass band before going solo. Black Keys’ man Dan Auerbach produced her first two lauded albums, but this latest – recorded in Nashville – was the rocker’s own work, and is gritty where 2011’s ‘Tell Me’ was polished and nuanced. Mayfield plumps for a back-to-basics sound here: hubbie Jesse Newport on bass, Matt Martin on drums and Mayfield with boot-toe pressing a bank of distortion and FX pedals. The pay-off is a raucous immediacy – Mayfield’s wry, deadpan delivery cutting through countrified grunge that slides between gentle numbers like ‘Standing In The Sun’ and the grinding slowcore of ‘Oblivious’, ‘Pure Stuff’ and ‘Unknown Big Secret’. Those heavier cuts are the album’s best – dark, dreamy and abrasive.
Charlotte Richardson Andrews