When Lera Lynn takes the stage, there is an undeniable feeling that she is something different – something special. Her sultry voice has a way of wrapping around melodies, enveloping the listener in her lyrics, rife with a plainspoken yet cutthroat honesty. When combined with her chordings, which are distinct, original and timeless in their own right, what is revealed is a songwriting craftsman already well on her way to establishing a niche that is very much her own.
In March 2011, Lera Lynn released her debut solo album, Have You Met Lera Lynn?, to international acclaim. Hand picked from Lynn’s collection of songs written over the previous decade, the album elucidates a painstaking inventory of past experiences, as well as artistic challenges in her present pursuits, and her hopes for the future. The opening track, “Whiskey,” is in fact one of Lynn's oldest songs, a portrayal of a young girl trying to cope in an environment of addiction and denial. Fast forward to the present in “Good Hearted Man” and find that girl fully grown and brazenly facing an increasingly hostile world.
Lynn won the 2011 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at Merlefest for her song, “Bobby, Baby,” sharing the honor with such alumni as Gillian Welch & Tift Merrit. “Bobby, Baby” also won an award for Best Alt. Country Song in the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards Vox Pop poll, which is determined not by judges but by online fan voting. Just as important to her, Lynn walked away with "Best Americana Artist” at her hometown of Athens, GA's 2011 Flagpole Music Awards, quite the distinction in a town so saturated with musical talent.
Lynn kicked off 2012 by releasing two brand new songs, one a cover of June Carter’s, “Ring of Fire” and the other an original tune, “Don’t Make Me Wait”. Both tracks are currently offered as a free download from her website. In May 2012, Lynn will enter a studio in Athens, GA to record a host of new songs that will make up her sophomore release.
Lynn and her band will be hard at work on the road this year touring across the entirety of the US and UK, playing prestigious events like NPR’s Mountain Stage, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Cambridge Folk Festival, and supporting the likes of K.D. Lang, Joan Osborne, Sarah Jarosz, Todd Snider, Sam Bush, Paul Thorn, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Band of Heathens.
Bobby, Baby, Single, Released 2010
Have You Met LERA LYNN? LP, Released March 2011
Ring of Fire EP, Released February 2012
"Lera Lynn, Have You Heard?"
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It isn’t mentioned as often as it should, but among the hidden treasures in the Athens music scene i...It isn’t mentioned as often as it should, but among the hidden treasures in the Athens music scene is a talented group of female singers. I have written in past about some of these talented women – Madeline, Tin Cup Prophet and the Campbell sisters – and now I can add to that list Lera Lynn.
Lynn, who was the lead songwriter and lead singer for Birds & Wire (which I had the pleasure to see last year at Flicker), is poised to reach a larger audience with her solo debut Have You Met Lera Lynn? A little bit country, a bit folk and a dash of pop sensibility, Lynn croons with a gentle lilt of yearning and anticipation – she’s impossible not to listen to.
There’s also the added attraction of her lyrics, terribly personal and dynamic. The first single off the album, Bobby Baby, is about the tribulations of her father who passed away three years ago.
“I recognize the role that he played in my life as an emotional being and often distrusting others. The song is about forgiveness, and letting go,” says Lynn. “We all understand now that it was just a result of the life he gave himself, and that he was just looking for love like the rest of us.”
Released on Slow Records, created by long-time Athenians C.k. Koch and Lee Henderson Have You Met Lera Lynn? should prove an important piece in the fledgling label.
"A Nice Dose of Brooding Folk"
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Alone on Hendershot's small stage last Saturday evening, Lera Lynn (birds & wire) evoked the classic...Alone on Hendershot's small stage last Saturday evening, Lera Lynn (birds & wire) evoked the classic image of "the brooding folk artist." Her dynamic, stripped-down show, however, combined confidence, vulnerability and performer-audience intimacy in a way that, sadly, has been absent from many performances I've seen recently. I'm always happy to see songwriters using minimalistic approaches; it's probably the closest we come to hearing a song as it was written originally, and the employment of fewer instruments usually amounts to clearer vocals and lyrical delivery. Although Hendershot's Coffee Bar is a little off the beaten path (a couple of miles outside downtown on Oglethorpe Avenue), the place was full of attentive listeners. And I doubt anyone was disappointed.
An acoustic guitar accompanied Lynn's smoky yet smooth voice on the first song, initiating the show with a mellow and somber tone. However, this tone rose and fell - breathed - as she radiated swells of honest passion throughout the hour. Her guitar-playing had a definite twang, and I was relieved that Lynn's lamenting country tunes like "Whiskey" felt natural; forced twang is cheesy and a waste of everyone's time.
All of the styles she utilized that night were familiar - I heard honky-tonk on one, a fast bluegrass shuffle rhythm on another, then some sort of Middle Eastern sound on the next. Lynn even played an extremely unusual version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," replacing the mariachi horn part with a sitar-reminiscent mandolin-guitar harmony. And on top of all this were Lynn's jazzy, Norah Jones-style vocals that never faltered in their soulfulness.
Vocalist and guitar/double bass/mandolin/dulcimer player Rob McMaken (Dromedary) joined Lynn and provided the perfect amount of accompaniment for the remainder of the show. McMaken's contribution was technically impressive and colorful, but never seemed overpowering. His voice had that "high lonesome" sound often heard in bluegrass and traditional country, frequently bringing the male harmonies into a higher range than the female lead vocals (and there's always something cute about that). McMaken switched among what seemed to be about 150 or so instruments throughout the hourlong set, playing each with precision and proficiency - a true professional.
My 75-cent word for this show would be "lamenting." McMaken used the mandolin to create a sort of violin effect on a few songs, picking rapidly enough to make the sound constant and sufficiently sad. Many of Lynn's songs are folk ballads whose mere tone suggested something really tragic was about to happen, and the last song actually drew tears from one audience member. Heavy.
I would go into more detail on the nature of these sorrowful tunes, but my keyboard isn't water-resistant.
Note: See Lynn on Oct. 21 at Little Kings and find out more about her and her music at leralynn.com.
Live Show Review
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Lera Lynn’s set was a gorgeous delving into the heartbreaking and lovelorn. A member of Athens band ...Lera Lynn’s set was a gorgeous delving into the heartbreaking and lovelorn. A member of Athens band Birds&Wire, Lera came with only herself, a gorgeous red Guild, and her drummer “CK” to keep the time. Her standout track was “Bobby, Baby,” an aching ballad of loss among family. For such a young performer, Ms. Lynn has a steady command of her craft, and a subtly smoldering intensity that instantly captivates. She is certainly a local artist to watch.
New Live Video : Lera Lynn : Happy Ever After
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Haven’t been real blown away by a lot off the stuff showing up on the doorstep the last couple days;...Haven’t been real blown away by a lot off the stuff showing up on the doorstep the last couple days; however, the virtual postman did bring Athens, Ga’s, Lera Lynn, a crystalline-voiced lass who has somehow eluded our radar. Here’s Ms. Lynn and a couple fellas delivering an old-timey take on Happy Ever After from her warm-from-the-oven debut, Have You Met Lera Lynn?
Needless to say, I was impressed enough by Lera Lynn to dig deeper, and man, I gotta tell you, this is one seriously talented young lady who deserves your full attention. I’m particularly fond of her folk-noirish, Bobby, Baby, and figured I would be doing you a grave disservice if I neglected to share the song, as well as the Brett Vaughn-directed video.
Musical Muse: Lera Lynn Gets Country Strong
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In Athens, Georgia, you can’t swing a stick without hitting a musician. Home to greats like R.E.M, T...In Athens, Georgia, you can’t swing a stick without hitting a musician. Home to greats like R.E.M, The B52s, Harvey Milk, Pylon, Vic Chesnutt, Modern Skirts, and Drive-By Truckers, the southern university town is still a hotbed of musical talent. Even below the lid, the water stays at a steady boil of great acts, among them a talented group of female performing songwriters. Among our new favorite to bubble over: Lera Lynn. The 27-year-old’s indie Americana sound and beautiful harmonies call to mind the sparse style of Gillian Welch. But bolstered by a full band, she rocks a little harder than her traditionalist contemporaries. Her much-buzzed-about album, Have You Met Lera Lynn?, the songwriter’s first solo recording, has already been nominated for the 2011 Athens Music Awards “Album of the Year” alongside local heavyweights of Montreal and Elf Power. And this spring, she won the 2011 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the annual Americana music festival, MerleFest , for her first release, Bobby, Baby. Catching up with Lera at her neighborhood watering hole— Normal Bar— was also a chance for her to catch her breath after another long stretch of touring.
New Addiction: Lera Lynn
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Man, I love Birds & Wire. So when I heard that Lera was releasing a solo work, I had to jump on that...Man, I love Birds & Wire. So when I heard that Lera was releasing a solo work, I had to jump on that. Expectations met and surpassed. I'm a sucker for a well-written song but a well-written album? I'm a goner.
I'm not quite sure what grabs me first. Perhaps it's the voice. There's a certain quality to Lera's voice that gives it that haunting feeling. Even on a sunny day, wearing rainbows and surrounded by puppies, Lera can sound like an abandoned widow crying in the rain. Sorrowful, would be the word, I think. Pair that with a strong emotive range and lyrics that will make even the hardest man cry, you've got a winner. Lera's got a pretty killer video to go with her first single "Bobby, Baby."
According to the handy dandy press release, the song is a tip of the hat to her late father and all his many demons. Do yourself a favor and take a listen. I think you'll like what you hear.
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Now we love all our kids equally and we don’t play faves but I must tell you I was not the only one ...Now we love all our kids equally and we don’t play faves but I must tell you I was not the only one who detected spooky star potential in Athens, GA’s Lera Lynn. With a literally lyrical name (somebody must have intended for her to be a country singer) and a cool retro nonchalance, she comes with built in stage presence. And then the songs. My word. It was all nerve exposing candor and delicious melodies, built into arrangements that really go somewhere. The big double-time chorus of “Gasoline” was thrilling, as was her dark and brooding cover of “Ring of Fire.” How relatable is she? My 12-year-old, five-months-in-America Chinese daughter who pre-declared boredom at the whole idea of a night at Roots shyly asked after the show if she could meet Lera and get a picture. “I like your song!” she told her in her newly acquired language. Breakthrough! She listened! She agrees with Baba about something! I was so proud.
Flagpole Athens Music Awards Recap: Poles, Puppets and Pride
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But the artist who absolutely stole the show was Lera Lynn—and she didn't need visuals or theatrics....But the artist who absolutely stole the show was Lera Lynn—and she didn't need visuals or theatrics. Joined by Ben Lewis on guitar and banjo, the duo performed her latest single, "Bobby, Baby," and the achingly beautiful cover of TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me." The duo's harmonies on the historic Morton Theatre stage were divine. Lera Lynn is equal parts poise and power, and we can't wait to see where she goes next. She went home with the award for best Americana act, but there are undoubtedly bigger accolades in store for her.
Lera Lynn- Have You Met Lera Lynn CD
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There is no information on who the musicians are on these excellent tracks but whoever they are, the...There is no information on who the musicians are on these excellent tracks but whoever they are, they deserve recognition because the performance of these songs is faultless - as good as anything out there in the real world. What really seals the deal is Lera's capacity for strong songwriting and her ability to fit it to a number of different styles but I have to say my favourites are when she smoulders.... Bbbbrrrrrrr. Again it is worth noting that, because of it's c&w connotations, this musician could be overlooked by those who are not into the genre, and that would be a real shame because Lera Lynn manages to embrace a clutch of moods and pass them on to us as music. A class act, delivered in a very professional manner by all concerned.
Highly Recommended country/pop hybrid.
Happy Ever After
Fire and Undertow
Good Hearted Man
I Tried To Leave You, by L. Cohen
For the Ride
You and Me Alone
Wolf Like Me, by TV On The Radio
There are no upcoming dates at this time.