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. Â She had a backing band this time, and the songs seemed more full of life. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â It’s like she crawled into my brain, scooped up some stories of bad choices andÂ 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. Â Do yourself a favor and check out her music, and see her at Schubas when she swings through in May.