This year, it’s been fun to hear a handful of young women known for country music shifting to sounds outside the traditional commercial Nashville machine and creating their best music yet. Take Lydia Loveless, who brought a punk edge and an emotionally raw candor to her superb album Somewhere Else; or Jessica Lea Mayfield, who tossed out her wistful alt-country for smoldering grungey bangers on Make My Head Sing...
More evolution than reinvention, Lera Lynn’s upcoming new album, The Avenues, may not pack the same distorted noisy wallop as the other two. But the record’s dreamy opener, “Out To Sea,” makes it clear that she, too, is expanding her musical palette into new territory.
Produced with Joshua Grange at his Los Angeles studio, The Avenues signals a creative high water mark for the Houston, Texas-born, Georgia-bred, Nashville-based songwriter, who up until now has been mostly viewed as an "Americana" artist. While these 11 news songs don’t necessarily dissuade from that genre tag, they do hopscotch around from early country and Western swing to spacious folk music, and even perhaps jazz-like dissonance in some of the guitar voicings. And in the shimmering production flourishes, it’s easy to hear traces of pop painting the corners of songs like “Out To Sea.”
“Out To Sea” showcases a sophisticated ease in Lynn’s layered windswept vocals -- whether she’s romantically wooing the listener in a ballad, dealing with personal heartache, or reflecting on the death of her alcoholic father. “They say life’s more than what we see / and surely in death that too will be / just give me one chance more to lay my head down,” Lynn sings amid crisp banjo plucks and Grange’s swooning pedal steel. While Lyra Lynn didn’t completely overhaul what we’ve come to expect from her music, there’s a richness in her songcraft that feels authentic and new.
Lera Lynn's latest album, The Avenues, comes out Sept. 9. She performs at Joe's Pub in New York on Friday, Aug. 8. You can also download the track for a week using the widget below: