With Blasphemy So Heartfelt CD - Polymer Sounds / RED / Thirty Tigers

Troubled relationships are the prime lyrical concern of rootsy singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield on her debut full-length recording, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Mayfield, an Ohioan, turned in a vocal performance on The Black Keys’ Attack and Release, and Dan Auerbach returns the favor here, producing this record and contributing much of its instrumentation. The up-front impression of Mayfield is her voice, a weary drawl that recalls (a perhaps overly sedated) Syd Straw. And it’s fairly well-fitted to the material of With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Mayfield’s lilting delivery also reminds a bit of Alela Diane on her first album. That’s a fine thing, but perhaps this is more a product of the arrangement of the 12 songs here, which are as much influenced by the looseness of melody of the freak-folkers and the dynamics of the sad-core crowd as traditional roots music.

In the main - as on opener “Kiss Me Again,” the steel-guitar polished “For Today,” “The One that I Love Best” (on which mournful effected guitars provide intriguing counterpoint) and the bluesy “I Can't Lie to You, Love” - Mayfield’s resigned approach works well. Only occasionally does she come up short: “We’ve Never Lied” is a tale of green-eyed jealously, the lyrics of which hold more vitriol than the melody and delivery can support (“I’ll talk to whoever I goddamned wanna,” Mayfield nearly yawns as she turns from her erstwhile and chiding lover towards the wall, pulling the covers over her head).

By Michael Meade



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