Ohio native Jessica Lea Mayfield started touring with her family’s bluegrass band when she was 8. When she was 15, she got dumped by her boyfriend and, heartbroken, did what all of us did as heartbroken teens: learned to play guitar and write songs, recorded an EP in her brother’s bedroom, and self-released it. (OK, fine, as a heartbroken teen I whined and played video games.)
The EP attracted the attention of The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach, who became something of a sponsor/mentor for Mayfield and produced her first proper LP, 2008’s With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. It went on to get rapturous reviews and show up on all sorts of TV shows and Starbucks compilations. She returned the favor by singing with The Black Keys on “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be,” the final track on their album Attack & Release.
Mayfield has finally released a follow-up: Tell Me, her major label debut on Warner imprint Nonesuch, also produced by Auerbach. It’s fantastic.
Frequently with musical wunderkinder you get annoying levels of precocity and hyper-ambition (see: Bright Eyes), but Mayfield is the opposite, restrained and loose. She lets you come to her.
The highlight for me is her languid, hypnotic voice, which makes me want kick up my feet and drink a little bourbon. It is well-showcased on this track, “Trouble.”
Bonus video with bonus mustache guy:
Get Grist in your inbox