Lera Lynn is set to release her new duets album, Plays Well With Others, on June 22 and will hit the road for a short run of dates with John Paul White (of The Civil Wars) and Peter Bradley Adams. We’ve got a pair of free tickets up for grabs to see Lera at Birchmere in Virginia on June 26 and at Bowery Ballroom in New York on June 27.
We chatted with Lera Lynn about her writing process, her duet partners, and the upcoming tour. Check it out, with a full list of dates, below and enter to win free tickets!
Thrillcall: Hi Lera, thanks so much for taking the time to chat and congrats on the upcoming release of Plays Well With Others! Can you tell me a little about what sparked the decision to do a duets record?
Lera Lynn: Thank you! And thanks for taking the time to listen and help spread the word! The album title just came to me one day. And I thought, “you’ve seen records with duets, you’ve seen records by a duo, but have you seen several writers/singers come together with the goal of writing duets for one body of work?” I also thought, “man, there are so many talented people in this world that I’d love to work with, sing with, write with, unite powers with. I have so many friends whose music and artistry I want to help spread–what better way than to collaborate.”
Though you’ve done co-writes with huge names like T. Bone Burnett and Rosanne Cash, this was the first time you’ve done a whole album this way. Even though you opened it up to new voices, it still feels so cohesive and fitting within your larger body of work. Talk us through the collaboration process.
I’m glad to hear that it feels cohesive. I was a bit worried that having such a diverse set of songs and voices would create a choppy album, so I gambled limiting the arrangements for all of the songs to strictly acoustic instruments. This was a big challenge for me, being such a fan of electric guitars, synths and effects and I almost caved when we were making the record. But we held true to the challenge (except we added organ bass pedals on the end of Wolf Like Me–shhh!) and I’m glad for it. Having spent a little time away from it after making it, I can listen now with more perspective and hear the thread running through them all. Ben Tanner (co-producer, engineer, mixer) is to thank for that as well!
Going into the writing process is different with every writer. From my experience, the writers with the most success are genuinely open to their collaborators ideas. There’s a fine balance between preparation and being willing to abandon all of your ideas, and knowing when it’s the right time to fight for something in a song. I certainly didn’t want to write “Lera Lynn” songs with all of these artists; I hoped each artist’s “voice” would shine thru, right alongside mine. Of course, I chose artists who inspire me so that was easy!
One thing I love about “Lose Myself” is the stripped back arrangement, it has such a nice spontaneous, live feel to it. What was the impetus behind the production on this record, compared to The Resistor?
Aside from the aforementioned limitation of acoustic arrangements, we had limited time to make this record. Before we started, I remember Ben Tanner (engineer/co-producer) saying to me, “I mix everything through an analog board so there’s no recall (meaning it’s a pain to go back and make changes) and no, I don’t have auto-tune.” On Resistor, we did a lot of overdubbing and several revisions on the mixes, including re-singing after the tracks were all in place. Since we were low on time with PWWO, what we did those few days in the studio is what you hear. Also, all of the songs tracked with the band were tracked live. And when possible, the duet partner and I would track vocals together too. I particularly loved this approach with Rodney Crowell–the whole track was done live, with he and I face to face with our guitars and vocal mics. And course, singing with John is such a pleasure that it had to be done that way.
As you kick off the album release tour, what’s life on the road like for you? Any favorite cities or venues to play?
I always love playing NYC and DC–they’re two of my favorite cities–two places in this world that give me a real pat on the back. Then I also get to play my hometown, Athens GA, fill up on that yummy food down there… This tour will be really fun, having so many great people I love on the road with me. We’ll be busy and juggling a lot of details, learning each others’ songs, but what a unique experience it will be! I love my job and I love bringing new music to people to love on, mine and otherwise. I hope that my fans fall in love with these artists as I have.
Lastly, what’s in store for the rest of 2018 for you?
More writing and recording–always! More touring… Heading to Europe late in the year too, I hope!