CD Review: Jessica Lea Mayfield

Tell Me (Nonesuch)

Dan Auerbach brings out the best in 21-year-old Kent singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield on her major-label debut. The Black Key produced Tell Me, but he also plays guitar, sings backing vocals, and adds drum loops. His touch is obvious on the twangy "Our Hearts Are Wrong" and the woozy "Trouble," a ballad in which Mayfield seductively slurs, "You should run far from the wrong I am doing." You better believe it. But the drum loops and canned beats occasionally come off as synthetic, pulling away from Mayfield's naturally evocative voice. All that artificial noise ends up a disservice. Still, this is Mayfield's strongest record, an alt-country torch storm that rivals Neko Case's best. — Jeff Niesel

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