Historic Downtown eNews  |  Archive


May 10, 2011

BIB and Sessions 27 are partnering to bring you a music pick of the week! We hope you enjoy this first one, Jessica Lea Mayfield. Although we don't know for sure yet, we have a hint that she might be playing a big festival very near and dear to Bristol's heart in the future! So check her out...

Jessica Lea Mayfield, Tell Me

Old Soul, New Music

By Ross Mikesell

There is a world weary quality and wisdom to Jessica Lea Mayfield’s new album Tell Me that belies her youth. Her age, twenty-one, is really of no consequence when you sift through her brief catalogue and consider the music within it. At seventeen she was the first guest vocalist on a Black Keys record, when she was featured on the track “Things Ain’t Like They used To Be” on their album Attack and Release. She then went on to record the excellent debut With Blasphemy So Heartfelt which was produced, as is Tell Me, by the Black Key’s Dan Auerbach. The new album has low key, rootsy feel throughout and wears its country influence as an accessory, say a battered Stetson, not the whole rhinestone jumpsuit. Tonally it’s a stack of black and white photographs with a few color snapshots shuffled into the mix, the pace rarely accelerating above a 2 a.m. barroom sway, but it never drags. There are pleasant exceptions to be found, notably the Casio groove of “Grown Man” and the sixties shimmy of “Nervous Lonely Night”, both of which stretch out the range of the album and yet manage to fit comfortably inside it. “Blue Skies Again” is a fantastic understated pop tune with bubbling bass, reverb soaked guitar, handclaps and an infectious chorus, definitely a highlight. Lyrically it’s a defiant, wistful affair and dressed in different clothes the songs wouldn’t feel out of place on an old diner jukebox. When it comes down to it, this reinvention of the familiar into something that’s fresh but still recognizable is a huge part of the album’s charm. In the closing song, “Sleepless”, she repeats the lyric, “my mama said that no on could stop me” and after accompanying her through the album, you’re certainly inclined to believe her.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the albums mentioned above, you can find those and many others at Sessions 27 record store on State Street in downtown Bristol.