By SAMANTHA WATSON
Marketing, Ignition Music Garage
Born in Houston, Texas, Nashville-based, Georgia-bred singer-songwriter, Lera Lynn’s music may be hard to categorize, but that is likely why she appeals to so many. While the music business likes to wrap everything up in neat little packages, that isn’t always possible. Lera’s music has frequently been filed under “Americana”, “Folk” and “Country.”
But those categorizations tell only part of the story. “I just want to stop thinking about music as a marketing campaign,” Lera says. “Ray Charles went from jazz to R&B to country. Paul McCartney will do a ballad next to ‘Helter Skelter,’ and not think twice. The most successful and lasting artists let inspiration steer them, not genre or marketing pitch. I’m just doing what moves me as it comes.”
There’s a haunting voice that can conjure country legends or the best of the singer-songwriters. There’s an understated presence and raw talent. There’s a writer in full command of her craft. “There are definitely aspects of earlier country in there, rockabilly and Western swing, music of the Patsy Cline era,” Lynn says. “I take some things from people like Conway Twitty and some of the other old country greats, and that’s very different from what country is now. Maybe that’s why the ‘country noir’ label is applied to my music so frequently. It probably should be ‘real country,’ or ‘authentic country music.’”
Lynn’s new album, The Avenues, produced by Joshua Grange, is due for national release on Sept. 9, 2014. Impetus for the recording of The Avenues developed during Lynn’s 2012 US tour. During that trek, she supported such notable performers as the Punch Brothers, Joan Osborne, Todd Snider, the Wood Brothers, and KD Lang, whose group included producer and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Grange. Meeting Grange fueled an immediate creative chemistry that ultimately led to recording all 11 songs on The Avenues at Grange’s Los Angeles studio. The album features a noteworthy group of players, including, guitarist Ben Lewis, bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Fiona Apple, Soul Coughing), keyboardist Jebin Bruni (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Meshell Ndegeocello), and drummer Quinn (Tracy Chapman, eastmountainsouth). Grange also provided his distinctive touch on guitar, pedal steel, and other instruments.
Melodic, atmospheric, and intensely introspective, the material on The Avenues is entirely self-penned and fearlessly personal. Several of the songs, including “Letters,” “Coming Down,” and “Leave It Up to Me,” are reflections on the musician’s difficult relationship with her alcoholic father, who died when she was in her early 20s. “The rest of the songs are about love,” she says. “There’s a lot of love and death happening here. But what else do you write about”?
Keith Bruens is a singer-songwriter from Edwardsburg, Mich., who was recently a contestant on WNIT’s Rising Star.
Lynn and Bruens will be performing at the Ignition Music Garage in Goshen on Saturday, Nov. 8. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $15.