Smile Politely

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Nashville noise via Ohio

Jessica Lea Mayfield is a busy woman. As far as I can tell, since releasing her second full length album in February the young singer/songwriter has only taken about two weeks off of touring (thanks to for the info). With such a hectic schedule I can’t feel too upset about being unable to have an interview with her.

But what is a writer to do when they can’t actually talk to an artist? Well, as NPR did after requests to interview Kanye West were turned down, crowdsource the interview. Without further ado, my crowdsourced interview with Jessica Lea Mayfield?

You look awfully young; do you mind telling me how old you are?

Mayfield turned 22 on August 27. (Source: Wikipedia)

Your songs are so frequently about tragic heartbreak and loss. Have you personally been through such awful personal ordeals?

“How a 21-year-old has already experienced a few lifetimes worth of romantic misery isn’t entirely clear. That perhaps she hasn’t is hinted in the way the lyrics drift toward cliche. “I guess we have to play the cards we’ve been dealt/And I got nothing,” she moaned on ‘Kiss Me Again.'” (Source: Washington Post)

So, maybe you haven’t been through everything in your music, but you have released two albums before your 22nd birthday. How did you achieve such success at a young age?

“Growing up in Kent, Ohio, Mayfield met fellow Ohio native Dan Auerbach, singer and guitarist for the Akron-based blues band, The Black Keys. Over the course of two years, Mayfield and Auerbach recorded what would become With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. After unsuccessfully trying to get her signed to a label, Auerbach started his own label to get Mayfield’s music out to the public.” (Source: The Eastern Progress)

How did you get started in music?

“Mayfield’s musical background [comes from] playing bluegrass at a young age in her family’s band One Way Rider.” (source: NPR)

But your albums don’t really sound like bluegrass. How would you describe your sound?

“[Tell Me single] “Our Hearts Are Wrong” is country, and there is a twang to her voice, but she’s no Stand By Your Man type. Think Tammy Wynette with the belligerence of a punk. With the electric guitar embellishment, it’s like hearing a noise band through the wall of a Nashville bar.” (Source: The Guardian)

“Tell Me, her second album, matches and at times even surpasses her debut in terms of rueful atmosphere and unflinching songwriting, and Mayfield works to break free of her country confines and showcase her vocals in new, unexpected settings.” (Source: Pitchfork)

I mentioned your songs have a great amount of sorrow in them. How would you describe the lyrical content of your music?

“Her songs aren’t tear-jerkers; they are bridge-jumpers. She doesn’t so much sing as she sighs, casually exhaling her uniformly heartbroken lyrics with a soft twang, like she’s been too mentally beaten down to put any more energy into it.” (Source: Washington Post)

“‘Somewhere In Your Heart’ moans with battered resignation and speaks of drastic action ― “My heart is through / And begs my hands to do / what I shouldn’t do” ― and ‘Run Myself Into the Ground’ finds Mayfield standing her ground at the outset of a relationship, whatever the outcome. It’s one of the saddest celebrations of newfound love ever committed to record.” (Source: BBC)

So what can we expect from you live?

“Mayfield may resemble a regular pretty girl on a night out, but she sings more like a woman weary from a life of romantic disappointments. She’s accompanied by a three-piece band, who add weight to her sad acoustic strumming.” (Source: The Guardian)

“Volume swells were as common as tales of bad relationships. Mayfield played a pair of songs by herself, and while they were far from chipper, there was some airiness to them. With the full band it was like being plowed over every few minutes. But heavy subject matter calls for a heavy soundtrack, and Mayfield clearly has her ambitions set well beyond being just a girl with a guitar.” (Source: Washington Post)

Thanks for your time, I’m looking forward to seeing you play.

Absolutely, I’m really looking forward to Champaign and the Pygmalion Music Festival. (Source: My imagination)

Jessica Lea Mayfield performs Friday, September 23 at Caffe Paradiso at 10 p.m.

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