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Jessica Lea Mayfield

Tell Me (Polymer Sounds / Nonesuch)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Jessica Lea Mayfield

Tell Me (Polymer Sounds/Nonesuch)

Jessica Lea Mayfield's second disc, and first for a big label, runs halfway between the stark grit of the Black Keys and synth-fueled girly pop. With a voice that's slightly languid and with songs conveying the 21-year-old's devilish view of relationships, Mayfield recalls a young Lucinda Williams, although backed by an indie rock band from the mythical town of Twin Peaks. As produced by Dan Auerbach, Tell Me is characterized by crooked guitar lines and a disarming fusion of desolate country ballads ("Somewhere in Your Heart"), snappy electro-pop like the title track, and sweet yet potent rockers ("Blue Skies Again"). Mayfield's lyrical sincerity hints at underpinnings that belie her youth, leaving one to wonder whether she's being sinister or, more likely, just a really disgruntled 21st century trickster. Either way, Tell Me deserves praise for its alternative vision of what a singer-songwriter album can be. (Thu., 9:15pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary)

***

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