There is something delightfully standoffish about Jessica Lea Mayfield, the 21-year-old roots-rock disciple from Kent, Ohio. Mayfield is a feathery-voiced depressive in the vein of Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, but whereas Marshall too often succumbs to shallow, gimmicky antics, Mayfield allows her work—a marvel of nuance and restraint—to speak for itself.
Mayfield’s 2008 disc, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, went largely unheard despite an executive-producer credit from Black Key Dan Auerbach. She stands to draw wider interest with Tell Me, but the profile boost hasn’t diminished her granular appeal: Tell Me is all meaty guitar licks and sad-edged vocals, like Fleetwood Mac for the blog generation. With song titles like “Run Myself into the Ground,” “Nervous Lonely Night,” and “Sleepless,” Mayfield makes no bones about her forlornly expressive approach to writing. Still, Tell Me feels genuine and unpretentious throughout, setting the tone for a night of cathartic, misty-eyed introspection.