When I first heard about Jessica Lea Mayfield, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy her music. I’m not exactly into for lack of better term, alt-country, but as soon as “For Today” starting blaring through my car speakers, I was in love. Jessica Lea is not only a beautiful vocalist, but she is also an incredibly talented songwriter. With a range that can go from distant to demanding all in one verse, Mayfield certainly grabs your attention as soon as you let her voice in. There is no other way to describe her better than to say she is empowering in every possible way, especially if you’re a female.
Going to a show to see a band or musician that I haven’t heard the latest album always sucks for me. I feel awkward and left out — like I somehow don’t belong in a room full of people who have an obvious appreciation for the presence on stage and are singing every word to every song. I was fully expecting that to happen when I went to shoot Jessica Lea Mayfield at Zanzabar on Saturday, November 18. Her fourth album, Sorry is Gone is a brutally honest mix of songs about damaging relationships and there’s no denying that anyone who has ever been in a bad relationship does not relate to any one of these songs. The album is actually in reference to recently saying goodbye to a marriage.
I put the fact that I wasn’t as well acquainted with Sorry is Gone as I wished I had been aside and I walked nervously inside. No matter the number of shows I have shot or the skills I’ve learned, I am still always nervous. With girly stickers adorning her guitars and petals, glitter eyeshadow and of course, her pastel clothing when Mayfield came out onto the stage, I remembered. Or maybe I forgot where I was, I’m not really sure — that’s what she does to you, she gets you lost in your own world and mixes it with hers. All I knew was that there was this incredibly relatable and talented musician on stage and I was going to photograph her doing what she loves. Once she began performing, it didn’t matter who you were or what you were doing — you stopped and you paid attention.
I once described Jessica Lea Mayfield to my twin sister as someone whose words and music wash over you. You sink into her voice, her words that hit so close to home every time you listen to them that it still shocks you. That’s exactly what happened to that entire room. You could feel the energy change from verse to verse, and between songs Mayfield had a meaningful and fun light-hearted conversation with the crowd — like dedicating a song to a couple’s two dogs. I already felt that Jessica Lea Mayfield was genuine before but seeing her perform, her ability to be raw and passionate in her words, on top of her interaction with her fans, just made her that much more genuine and true. It’s safe to say that as soon as I got home, Sorry is Gone was being played on repeat.
Check out Sorry is Gone here. I highly recommend listening to her song “Safe 2 Connect 2” as soon as possible!
Look at a few photographs I took from the show below while listening to a full audio recording of Mayfield’s Zanzabar performance here.