Release Date: Feb 8, 2011
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Click to listen to Jessica Lea Mayfield's Tell Me "There's not much I wouldn't let you whisper in my ear," coos Jessica Lea Mayfield on her second album. At 21, Mayfield looks like an ingénue but sings like a worldly-wise veteran, picking apart relationships with the sly eroticism of someone who's lived a little. Producer Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) gives Mayfield's confessions a darker hue, laying on tremolo guitar while nudging the noirish country songs toward British Invasion pop ("Nervous Lonely Night"), among other genres.
There is something delightfully standoffish about Jessica Lea Mayfield, the 21-year-old roots-rock disciple from Kent, Ohio. Mayfield is a feathery-voiced depressive in the vein of Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, but whereas Marshall too often succumbs to shallow, gimmicky antics, Mayfield allows her work—a marvel of nuance and restraint—to speak for itself. Mayfield’s 2008 disc, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, went largely unheard despite an executive-producer credit from Black Key Dan Auerbach.
On her second full-length, Kent, OH native Jessica Lea Mayfield bears her heart to her listeners, weaving together simply constructed melodies with intricate guitar chords and unabashed honesty. With a low and gentle voice, Mayfield sings about broken hearts, the struggle to accept love, and the complexities of deciding whether or not to follow one’s mind or heart. The difference between Tell Me and the artist’s previous works is the use of new styles and techniques.
Ohio neo-country singer Jessica Lea Mayfield writes eloquently analytical love songs. With her languid drawl suggesting an interior monologue rather than an actual conversation-- as if she's thinking things out in her head-- she comes across as a woman torn between her heart and her brain. On her 2008 debut, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, she picked apart her relationships like a scholar deconstructs a text, parsing out the finer regrets and conflicts right up to the point of severing the emotional connection between herself and the "you" she's addressing.
If Ohioan Jessica Lea Mayfield—or her producer, Black Keys’ singer Dan Auerbach—is representing her state with this sound, then Ohio is a place that has a hell of an echo. Not that spacious, comforting kind of echo, but rather something far more bleak and isolating. Her breakthrough sophomore record, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, gave us a stark but ultimately arresting set of songs.
Tell Me is 21-year-old songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield's sophomore effort and her debut for Nonesuch. Produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach (again), these 11 songs reflect a more ambitious sonic palette for Mayfield's moody, broken love songs. While comparisons to Laura Marling are inevitable, Mayfield's songs -- and Auerbach's production -- touch but also reach far outside singer/songwriter fare toward indie rock terrain.
With her limited vocal range and relatively flat affect, Ohio’s Jessica Lea Mayfield isn’t the most compelling singer, her voice often recalling the nasal drone of Cat Power at her mopiest. But over the course of Tell Me, her second full-length album, Mayfield emerges as a singer-songwriter with a powerful and distinct voice. Her complex songwriting, full of clever turns of phrase and slanted observations, makes it clear how she first caught the attention of the Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, who produced the record with a sure hand.
A treasure of tremendous emotional resonance and focus from the rising country singer. Mike Diver 2011 At the age of only 21, Ohio songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield already has some serious weight upon her shoulders. One can argue she brings it on herself, by virtue of being quite as talented as she is; but when you’re already being not only compared to, but lined up as a successor to, the likes of Neko Case and Lucinda Williams in the press, the pressure must be felt.
Let’s not mince words –- our advance copy of Jessica Lea Mayfield’s Tell Me was one of the few things keeping us sane during this long, sark, miserable winter. Sometimes it felt like putting “Blue Skies” on repeat for an hour straight was the only thing holding off The Shining, creepy twins, tidal waves of blood and all. Produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Tell Me is one of the rare records that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, even if it’s got a major maudlin streak once you peel back the layers – misery does in fact love company, especially when it’s decked out in gorgeous vocals, breathtaking production and, most importantly, great songs.
Jessica Lea Mayfield's second disc, and first for a big label, runs halfway between the stark grit of the Black Keys and synth-fueled girly pop. With a voice that's slightly languid and with songs conveying the 21-year-old's devilish view of relationships, Mayfield recalls a young Lucinda Williams, although backed by an indie rock band from the mythical town of Twin Peaks. As produced by Dan Auerbach, Tell Me is characterized by crooked guitar lines and a disarming fusion of desolate country ballads ("Somewhere in Your Heart"), snappy electro-pop like the title track, and sweet yet potent rockers ("Blue Skies Again").