I didn't think that I could Love Jessica Lea Mayfield anymore than I already did, but that changed when I saw her live at The Parish (2.13.09).
Mayfield for me was one of those music review finds that we all hope for. When I joined Stereo Subversion as a album reviewer at the end of the summer, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt was one of the first albums they sent me. At the time, it hadn't been released yet and Mayfield was just about to embark on a tour with The Black Keys. It had not dawned on me that hers was that alluring yet sorrowful voice that I heard on The Black Keys' song "Things Ain't Like They Used to Be." However, after one listen I instantly knew that I had discovered something amazing. To avoid repeating myself I will just point you towards my review, but will mention that after repeated listens I believe I shortchanged the album. An 8 out of 10 is indeed a great score, but looking at it now I would bump the grade up to a 9. It's that damn good.
With that, I was unbelievably excited to see alt-country's next sweetheart at The Parish opening up for the Annuals. Accompanied by a full band which included her brother David Mayfield, Jessica and her acoustic guitar caught a couple gasps from the crowd. And it wasn't just because she was looking absolutely gorgeous that night, it was because it's quite something to see such a strong and mature voice come from such a tiny young woman. Like the title of her album suggests, her songs are full of heartbreak and pain which is only intensified thanks to her blues-like sullen vocals. She played "Bible Days," one of the standouts on her debut, early in the set. "For Today," "Greater Heights," and "Kiss Me Again" were all thrown in there and through it all Jessica's music poured out with all the sadness and beauty that made her album such a remarkable creation.
Not to be overlooked was David who played the upright bass like a man possessed, thrashing the strings and swinging it around as if it was a dance partner. At one point he even threw himself on the ground and lifted the bass into the air with his legs while still playing.
They ended with my favorite track off With Blasphemy, "I Can't Lie To You, Love." How fitting that they would close out on that one. It was like Jessica was playing just for me...
Austinites will have another chance to catch little Ms. Mayfield when she visits for SXSW. She's currently scheduled to play The Parish again on March 18th, a showcase which includes her good friend (and producer) Dan Auerbach. I'm sure she will pick up a couple more shows during the week, so do yourself a favor and catch Mayfield live. You will not be disappointed at this discovery.
For now, listen to what she has to say about life on the road in this video from Uncensored Interview.