Lera Lynn and David Ramirez
With her new album On My Own, Lynn has emerged not only with a clear vision of herself, but with an entirely self-propelled breakthrough: Lynn wrote, sang, produced and recorded On My Own alone. She also played every single instrument on the record. It is a magnificent album, haunting and wild. It is also a record that no one else could make, because no one else is Lera Lynn. “I think there is something special about a singular vision,” Lynn says. “That’s not to say there’s not something special about a shared vision, a collaborative vision. But I would be so thrilled to hear records made in isolation by my favorite artists, just to know what their uninfluenced vision of their music is.” She pauses, then adds, “I guess I just wanted to hear what my own imagination sounded like.”
Over the last decade, Lynn has earned a loyal following, critical acclaim and the admiration of peers and heroes, the last of which propelled the brilliance of her last full- length release, 2018’s duets project Plays Well with Others. Several years earlier, the Nashville-based Lynn had turned heads in LA and she began writing music for the second season of HBO’s True Detective, on which she also landed a recurring role. Versatile and smart, she has sometimes seemed too good at too much.
On My Own harnesses all of that energy into a single potent focus. Album opener “Are You Listening?” begins with palpable urgency, building anticipation for Lynn’s svelte voice. Lynn doesn’t disappoint: “As a child I would dream of the bottom of the sea / If I swam deep enough, there was air to breathe,” she sings, launching into a reconnection with childlike faith in possibility. “It’s taking control of your destiny and deciding how you’re going to interpret the things that are happening around you,” Lynn says.
How do you write love songs when you’re heartbroken? How do you sing about hope and passion when yours is lost? How do you finish an album when the relationship that inspired it has ended?
During the Summer of 2017, David Ramirez had fallen in love with a woman who, despite having only just met, felt incredibly familiar to him. There was a scary but comfortable feeling of deja vu within their moments together. “In past relationships, no matter how eager I was to feel loved and to give love, there had always been a hesitation to crawl out of my old life. I didn’t feel this with her,” he recollects.
Ramirez began to pen songs for his next album and hopeful odes to new love spilled out. Songs like “Lover, Will You Lead Me?” filled with vivid images from the heart: I recognized you from some distant dream / Like when it rains on a cold day / I had a chill in my bones / Is it true what they say / “When you know, you know.”
These were followed by sultry, romantic ballads about how love matures and grows. He wrote “I Wanna Live In Your Bedroom” while sitting on his lover’s bed just minutes after waking up on a hazy fall day. “I was looking around at all the perfectly curated pieces in her room,” he says. “Everything was so intentional and held a story and a place in her heart. I wanted to be one of those pieces.”
One after another, Ramirez poured his soul into a new work of art that covered both the sweet parts of love and the hard times it can bring. He wrote about potential, survival, hope, and encouragement. He wrote about partnership.
But art is often bred from spontaneity and suffers under the confines of routines and borders. This is a conflicting dynamic that can cause massive problems when you’re building a partnership, when you’re part of a team. A seeming “whatever” attitude can foster insecurity and doubt in a lover. As more and more troubles emerged in his relationship, Ramirez found solace still at the tip of his pen, holding his guitar, sitting at his piano.
“I was born in August of 1983 just days after Hurricane Alicia had hit my hometown of Houston. As my relationship began ripping at the seams, I started to think of this storm as a precursor to my being born,” Ramirez confides. “Was there something in the universe that imprinted a characteristic of chaos in my blood during my last few days in the womb? Was I destined to wreak havoc everywhere I went?”
Soon, the relationship that had inspired a new burst of creativity in Ramirez and moved him to start writing an album unlike any he had ever attempted before, came to an end. And with that ending, he still had one last song to write. His heart exhausted, he sat on his patio one night and tried to process all of the lyrics that he knew he had written, yet now left him feeling like a stranger to his own story. Through tears and muffled whimpers, he started to write down all of his negative thoughts about love and put the pain of his broken heart into words. From this emotional purge, he began to see the beauty in what he had gone through: the struggle, the pain, the confusion. He soon found himself writing the lyrics that would become album standout “Hallelujah, Love Is Real!”
“I was reminded of a great line in the film Vanilla Sky, ‘The sweet is never as sweet without the sour.’ I decided to celebrate Love,” he explains. “I wasn’t gonna write about how it made me feel in that moment. I was going to write about its existence and how thankful I am having known it.”
This chapter of Ramirez’s life came to a close in the form of his forthcoming 10-song set, My Love Is A Hurricane, recorded with producer Jason Burt at Modern Electric Studios in Dallas, TX. For the first time in his career, he did no pre-production ahead of time, working from gut feelings throughout the process and spending most of his time in the studio on the edge of his seat. The resulting R&B-influenced, piano-driven production is highlighted by heavy basslines and synths with the occasional gospel backing. This experimentation with new melodies and rhythms places Ramirez’s deeply personal songwriting on top of dreamy, groove-driven landscapes that heal the heart and promote positivity while prompting listeners to want to sing (and dance) along.
My Love Is A Hurricane is Ramirez’s fifth full-length record and eighth collection of songs. Early albums like American Soil (2009) and Apologies (2012) put him on the map both locally and beyond, while his STRANGETOWN (2011) and The Rooster (2013) EPs delivered fan-favorite recordings, “Shoeboxes” and “The Bad Days respectively, that are staple singalongs at his concerts to this day. He made his Thirty Tigers debut with 2015’s FABLES, produced by Noah Gundersen, which features his most widely received single to date, “Harder to Lie.” While this earlier work landed Ramirez firmly in the singer/songwriter canon, a need to do more exploring sonically led to the expansive sound of his most recent album, We’re Not Going Anywhere (2017). Influenced by ‘80s bands like The Cars and Journey, it is lyrically reflective of the country’s intense political landscape framed from his perspective as a bi-racial American of Mexican heritage.
As songwriters evolve as people, so does their art, and that could not be more apparent than on Ramirez’s newest offering. The soundscapes utilized on My Love Is A Hurricane may be unlike any recording he has previously crafted, but it's not a departure from his journey. It's a new path created in order to tell a new story. A new canvas needed to hold the scene that his intensely personal lyrics are painting.