LERA LYNN – ” Lera Lynn Plays Well With Others “

Posted: June 23, 2018 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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This week the new releases are plenty hot. Lera Lynn, Jeffrey Foucault, and T. Hardy Morris break new ground with their new records, building on careers that started out promising and haven’t let us down one bit along the way.

Lera Lynn, and her songs that owed as much to heavy-lidded space-rock and psychedelia as to country music: think the Black Angels meets Bright Black Morning Light, but with insistent grooves. It was a fine blurring of styles and I got really into her record Resistor . On the new “Plays Well With Others”, Lera Lynn once again cuts her own path. Unlike many duets and guest star-oriented records, many of the songs on Plays Well With Othersare originals, co-written for this collection and then tracked live. There’s a wide sonic and emotional range, too, making this half-hour duets record an engaging album in Lynn’s discography.

The most memorable songs hearken to earlier musical eras. Lynn and John Paul White’s (previously of The band Civil Wars) cover of “Almost Persuaded” strips the David Houston song down its Opry-esque core, giving it the straightforward swing of a 1950s honky-tonk radio staple. Appropriately, Nicole Atkins duet “In Another Life” captures the crestfallen romance of early rock ballads. A straightforward, poignant hook of “In another life/you’re mine” rides a progression that would have been right at home at another spot of the 1950s radio dial.

Lynn also explores the twilit soundscapes that made Resistor such an intriguing listen. For one, Plays Well With Others opens gradually with haunted atmospheric swells courtesy of a bowed double bass, leading into her Peter Bradley Adams duet “Same Old Song,” while the Andrew Combs duet “Breakdown” moves with a familiar up-tempo sinuous grace. And on Lynn and Shovels and Rope’s cover of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me,” they transform the driving, twistedly danceable indie-pop number into a shambling Old Weird America tale. When the three sing “we could jet in a stolen car/but we wouldn’t get too far/before the transformation takes/and the bloodlust tanks/and the crave gets slaked/my mind has changed/my body’s frame/but god, I like it” over patient folk-rock, it alters the listener’s perception of the song’s metaphorical werewolf. Rather than bounding feverishly through a neon landscape in search of warm flesh as the wolf does in the TV on the Radio original, Lynn and Shovels and Rope’s werewolf is a patient, calculating beast — and it’s almost more frightening for it.

And sometimes Lynn just feels like having fun, such as when she and JD McPherson gleefully howl “I don’t want nothin’ to do with your love.” On Plays Well With Others, Lynn and her collaborators are obviously enjoying themselves immensely. Fortunately for the rest of us, they brought some excellent new songs into the world in the process.

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