'Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith' Album - Rolling Stone
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Seth Avett, Jessica Lea Mayfield Prep Elliott Smith Covers Album

Former tourmates pay tribute to the late singer-songwriter with personal project

Seth Avett Jessica Lea Mayfield

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform in Oakland, California

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

This March, Jessica Lea Mayfield and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers will release an album of covers by late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. The album, titled Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, is the product of three years of on-and-off collaborations between the two, and will feature twelve songs that span the entire discography of Smith’s career.

The album is a loving tribute that reflects the two singers’ shared admiration for Smith, whose fragile, aching ballads and Beatles-influenced pop gems earned him an intense cult following throughout his career and in the decade-plus since his tragic death in 2003.

“It came about so naturally; there was nothing insincere about it,” says Avett of the upcoming LP. “It only exists because me and Jessica love Elliott Smith’s songs.”

“Everyone who’s an Elliott Smith fan takes the lyrics and relates them to themselves,” adds Mayfield. “When Seth is singing, I forget for a moment that they’re Elliott Smith songs, and when I’m singing them it’s the same thing. I’m singing the lyrics as if it were my own song.”

Mayfield has a long history with the Avett Brothers, serving as a frequent tour opener and providing the band with cover material of her own. Her upcoming record with Avett will be one of both artist’s more bare-boned projects, with subtle production highlighting the duo’s gentle harmonies and soft-spoken guitar playing.

The pair will be touring this spring in support of Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, which is out March 17th.


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