Her Past is Blue

Last week I got on the phone with Jessica Lea Mayfield. Her two Dan Auerbach-produced albums have their share of sharp-tongued songs that draw on pre-‘90s country and moody ‘90s grunge. Tell Me is the latest one. The way that she coolly, unaffectedly calls guys out on their false-hearted attempts at seduction is pretty striking. But her background, and her relationship to it, can also really throw people. She grew up traveling around in a modified old tour bus with her family’s band, singing bluegrass and gospel. In other words, earnest music. Even though she’s chosen a completely different way of expressing herself—one that isn’t particularly earnest—she still shows great affection for the music of her upbringing. She’s always mentioning bluegrass-gospel giant Doyle Lawson in interviews, and even used his name for her cat and for a tattoo. And who’s to say she can’t have it both ways?

 

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About Jewly Hight

Jewly Hight has written about popular music for more than a dozen outlets, including Nashville Public Radio, American Songwriter, Relix and The Nashville Scene. Born in North Carolina and raised on both coasts of Florida--the domain of manatees, sea turtles, airboats and alligators--she now lives in Nashville in an 112-year old, mint green house with her husband, their energetic dog and their 1975 Rodgers drum kit. She has a master's from Vanderbilt University Divinity School and happens to be an avid clogger. Right By Her Roots is her first book.
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