“I’m not crazy,” Lera Lynn tells Rolling Stone Country, before a brief pause. “OK, maybe I’m a little bit crazy.”
Not crazy, but maybe a touch prophetic — the Nashville-based, Georgia-born singer-songwriter is talking about the process of writing “Standing on the Moon,” a track from her sophomore LP, The Avenues. Lynn had been suffering from a several month-long bout of writer’s block, so she migrated to a friend’s home on the lake in Georgia for some inspiration and creative isolation.
“I was kind of panicking,” she says. “For most writers, if you are not writing, you start to loose grip on who you are. So I brought a bottle of wine or two and decided I would just sit there and write a bunch of songs in a night. Three our of four were horrible and the one left was ‘Standing on the Moon.’ And I didn’t really know who it was about yet, which is new since I tend to always write from life experience — but it was a self-fulfilling prophecy because I met the person I wrote it about after the song was done. I know that sounds weird.”
That person was someone who preferred to be “untethered,” and the song deals in the delicate balance of both respecting the space some wanderers require to love and be loved and pining for it to shorten — an emotion mirrored in the arrangement that’s strong and mournful without being too delicate or sentimental.
In the video, premiering on Rolling Stone Country, Lynn took an organic approach to the stark and simple black-and-white clip.
“This video was a pretty spontaneous experience,” she says. “Within a half hour we’d shot two songs. There was no forethought into how it was going to look. It’s important to have these live performance videos for people who have never seen you play, though…. ‘Oh yeah, there’s a person behind that music.'”
Produced by Joshua Grange, a member of Sheryl Crow’s touring band, The Avenues is a unique soldier in the Americana landscape — though there are threads of country in her writing, there’s a stronger inclination towards the more free-wheeling, free-form folk of Fiona Apple, Traci Chapman or Joni Mitchell’s Turbulent Indigo, even the aggressive, sultry moodiness of Chris Isaak. Her broad palate can be seen in the various covers she’s released recently — including a banjo-picked deconstruct of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” or Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” Done in cowboy boots, mind you.
“When people ask me what my music sounds like and I say ‘Americana,’ you would be surprised how many people are like, what? Ameri-who?” she says laughing. “There’s a little country in there, but sometimes you just have to listen to it.”
Still, Lynn enjoys her newfound hometown of Nashville, and isn’t particularly afraid that it roots her in one genre or another. “Nashville has given me a greater musical identity because there is such a juxtaposition,” she says. “It gives me stronger legs.” It’s a base that made completely crowdfunding Avenues possible — a campaign that included an opportunity to purchase a “Nashville Night on the Town” with the singer for a thousand-dollar donation.
“Someone did buy that, and he’s yet to cash it in,” she says. Won’t that be a little uncomfortable — a little crazy, even — to have cocktails and dinner with a total stranger? “If it’s awkward, well, then we’ll just have more drinks.”