.

Artist to Watch: Jessica Lea Mayfield's Disarming Blend of Country, Rock and Electronic Pop

The Black Keys' protege says her new album 'is kinda me being a dick'

February 1, 2011 9:00 AM ET

Who: A 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Kent, Ohio who will release her second full-length album Tell Me on February 8. The record is part of the young singer's ongoing collaboration with Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, who has produced both of her albums and provided her big break when she sang on the Keys' Attack and Release in 2007.

Sounds Like: A disarming collision of stark country balladry, dynamic alternative rock and arty electronic pop. Mayfield's vocal delivery often recalls the bold, plaintive drawl of Lucinda Williams, but her taste for oblique lyricism and unusual musical textures owes more to the anything-goes alternative country of Neko Case and Wilco.

Black Keys Protégé: Auerbach discovered Mayfield's first EP White Lies on MySpace when she was still in high school. "Dan sent me a MySpace message," she tells Rolling Stone. "He was like "Hey, I play in a local band called the Black Keys.'" Mayfield was only vaguely aware of them at the time, but her boyfriend was a big fan. "I was like 'You know that band, you gave me the CD? We're gonna go hang out.'" She and Auerbach hit it off immediately. "The day we met we recorded eight songs together – my songs, his songs, covers," she says. "There's something to be said about that, how easy it is for us to work together."

Becoming Mean: Since Mayfield began writing songs at the age of 11, all of her early romantic experiences ended up documented in music. "I wrote about every first," she says. "Every kiss, first boyfriend, first heartbreak, blah blah blah." With Tell Me, she says she's moved on to being more aggressive in her lyrics. "The new album is kinda me being a dick," she explains. "I put all the meanest actions and thoughts into my songs." Mayfield was afraid that she crossed a line when she made a reference to an ex's hometown on the track "Trouble", but Auerbach talked her out of softening her words. "I've found that it's important to be personal," she says, "so I now I try to trust my gut instinct."

LAST WEEK: Joy Formidable Revive Female-Fronted Nineties Rock

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com