Band of the Week: Jessica Lea Mayfield

Meet the band: Jessica Lea Mayfield (guitar, vocals), Jesse Newport (bass) and Matt Martin (drums)

Guitar Hero: Kent-based singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield took nearly a year to record her new album, Make My Head Sing...; the album shows off her ability to play guitar as she plays lead on all 10 songs. On the disc, she comes off as if she's an alt-country PJ Harvey. "Guitar has been a new way for me to express myself," she says. "I had to change how I wrote songs. I used to write lyrics first and then build everything around it. I love playing the guitar so much." She and her collaborator, bassist and husband Jesse Newport, whom she married two years ago, produced the album, which they recorded at Nashville's Club Roar studio.

A Relationship Record: Mayfield says the opening track "Oblivious," a dreamy number that sounds a bit like Mazzy Star, is "mainly about the whole situation of starting to date someone and there's always that one person who can't be around and doesn't want to be your friend and just wants to get in your pants." The song isn't about wallowing in misery, however. "It's about the dominance and about trying to shoo away the leftovers," she says. "It's about being smarter than some dumb bitch. The guitars are loud as fuck. The cool thing about the warehouse where we recorded is that we can chain other amps to my amp and make it louder."

Why You Should Hear Her: Songs such as "Seein' Starz" are deeply personal tunes that really resonate. "That was the first song I ever wrote about Jesse and us meeting," she says of the track. "Toward the beginning of our relationship, we said if we were both touring, we would never get to see each other. It was about trying to meet up with him. We made the decision for him to tour with me. We just can't work for other people and do what we want. We want to spend all our time together. People give us shit for it. So it's rebellious in a sense. We play pinball and tour and screw and do what we want." With its tender, stuttering vocals, the song has pop elements too. "I'm into the irony of that kind of stuff," she says. "Whenever I do anything that's remotely poppy, it's more fun. That was the main thing with this song — it was fun coming up with the cute parts."

Where You Can Hear Her:

Where You Can See Her: Jessica Lea Mayfield performs with Dylan Leblanc and Shivering Timbers at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, at the Beachland Ballroom.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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