I was first introduced to Jessica Lea Mayfield late last year, when she was opening for Justin Townes Earle. I thought she was good but not great; in the post I never got around to finishing about the show, I kept coming back to the line ‘a poor man’s Sharon Van Etten’. They both have similar vocal styles and the lyrics can’t possibly get much sadder or emotionally brutal. But I felt like Mayfield didn’t quite make the same connection with the audience that Van Etten did, and I found myself overall a little underwhelmed.
I saw her again last month, opening once more for Justin Townes Earle, and was more impressed. She had a backing band this time, and the songs seemed more full of life. I felt like the set in general was more cohesive and, though she’s not a chatty artist, that there was a bit better of a vibe between her and the audience. I’d love to see her in a smaller, more intimate venue — say, perhaps, Schubas on May 14th.
Since her show last month, I’ve been spending some quality time with her albums, though, and I can confidently say that I’m fully in love with her songs. Maybe it’s just because I’m in a different place in my life than I was when first introduced to her last year, but both her first full-length, With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt, and her newest release, Tell Me, are just full of songs that resonate so deeply with me that it’s almost painful. It’s like she crawled into my brain, scooped up some stories of bad choices and doomed relationships and new beginnings, and turned them into songs.
I have a dream and that dream is Perfection;
I have a dream that lives so far away.
I’d hold your hand but you do not want me;
I’ll be the one that you want someday.
My brain is speeding faster than my mouth can move,
I’ll sit still and silently observe the room,
All I can think about is things I should not do.
Appease your inner sad bastard, friends. Do yourself a favor and check out her music, and see her at Schubas when she swings through in May.