Lera Lynn Births ‘Something More Than Love’ Amid New Motherhood
Lera Lynn takes pride in approaching each of her albums with a different plan, and she’s done a bang up job of that in recent years. 2018’s Plays Well With Others found her co-writing and co-singing duets with a range of friends in a Florence, AL studio. In 2020 she went in exactly the opposite direction with On My Own, featuring tracks she composed, played, recorded and mixed by herself at home. Paradoxically, that deliberate self-isolation came in 2019 before we were all isolated and staying at home. But by then, Lynn had a new situation altogether - she was a new mother, recording her new Something More Than Love between her maternal obligations.
“I was breastfeeding a newborn,” she said of the sessions in an early August interview for Episode 219 of the String, split with Nicki Bluhm. “So we could work in these two hour blocks, basically. And then I had to remove myself and tend to my baby.” Her mom was able to come in from Hendersonville to give the team a bit more time to work. “But we had to be really focused. We couldn't go in there and just play around and just search for inspiration. We had to treat it like a job.”
The resulting album certainly doesn’t sound labored, if you’ll forgive the cringey pun. SMTL is a swirling tide of Americana tech pop, gracefully deploying keys and synth drums alongside the textured, intelligent guitar of Todd Lombardo (her partner and father of their now two-year-old), Ian Fitchuk’s drums, and a handful of other collaborators. The logic of the release stems from a thought-out song cycle about the conflicting emotions and realities of new motherhood. Opener “Illusion” is about the discovery and wonder stage of her relationship with Lombardo, chapter one of the story. The patient and beautiful song “What Is This Body?” confronts the physical changes brought on by motherhood with candor and wonder. The incredibly crafty “Conflict of Interest” ponders the dichotomies of work/life and self/other in a fresh way.
“I feel like I'm constantly pulled in two directions,” she says. “And I'm trying to work every day, you know, doing music stuff, and I feel like I'm neglecting both, somehow. And in that, neglecting myself, too. Yeah, it's a difficult balance, for sure.”
One of my favorite passages of our conversation came when I invited Lera to talk about Lombardo. They met soon after she moved to Nashville in 2012 when he was recommended as a sideman by Lynn’s friend Peter Bradley Adams. He’s been in her band ever since, with the romance blossoming some years later.
“To be honest, it has taken me nearly 10 years to fully understand the depth of subtlety and feel that he has,” she says. “Yes, he can play all the chords and he can do all the crazy guitar leads. But what he's called to do, what he's paid to do, most often is play acoustic guitar. There is something very, very unique and special about the way that he does it. And I just can't put it into words. It's very deep and very vulnerable and emotional. That he has figured out how to channel all of that into his acoustic guitar strumming is amazing.”
Lera Lynn and Todd Lombardo will perform as a duo on Saturday at WMOT’s Roots On The Rivers festival.