As a native of Nashville, having never lived outside of a quaint 10-mile radius, I find myself experiencing just how small this city is and just how many familiar faces there are, whether they are welcomed sights or not. The bartenders know your drink of choice, a friend is at every show, an acquaintance is crossing the same corner, last week’s interest is at the grocery store coincidentally at the same time. Nashville is a scrapbook city of past times and good times and all the people met in cigarette smoke-filled rooms and venues and on outdoor patios. And though I love it so (obviously, I’ve never left), I must admit that there are moments I wish to be a stranger amongst other strangers. That’s when I roll the windows down in the 30-degree weather with the heat on high and a soundtrack that sweeps me along the roads made unfamiliar only by my imagination and wandering mind, both reinforced by an immersive playlist that creates a momentary escape into anonymity.
It is music like Lera Lynn’s that helps wipe the dust off of aged contemplations and whisks you away and into nostalgia and a recreated familiarity that still seems comfortable. With her fluid and undisguised vocals that charter melodies that stick with you until the bottom of the glass and into the early morning nights, she embodies a style and sentiment that is unbounded by its lack of labels and unfeigned sound. Her newest album, The Avenues, released this past September, is an 11-track exposition of Lynn’s life and branded memories, which extracts personal reactions and transforms them into musical translations. The album is layered with her enchanting vocals and simplistic arrangements that conjure scenes and emotions that exclude superfluous niceties and glamour. That being said, her music is a testament to the beauty of confession, and her lyrical command pairs lastingly with a mesmerizing harmonic structure. Produced by Joshua Grange and recorded in his Los Angeles studio, the album transports you into the depths of your own memories while divulging Lynn’s own. And the dive into the pools of human condition is a liberating one.
Songs like “Leave It Up To Me” and “Sailor Song” hauntingly capture Lynn’s old-soul talent, while “La Di Da,” “Standing on the Moon” and “Comin’ Down” echo a more present disposition. Grange’s touches of pedal steel reach to reminisce about old Country standards while the mood of the songs perpetuates a folk-laden message. It reminds me of the kind of experiences had at a listening room, surrounded by walls full of 90s, black-and-white headshots and old concert posters that reverberate songs that just always seem to hit home. Lynn’s music is the kind that freezes a moment in real-time, allowing you to fade into a personal reality that excludes anyone else in the room and the outside world, if you so choose it to. It is a revitalizing detour from the known and common, and it is a sanctioned sound.
Lynn is an escape artist, as well as an escape synergist, and she’s treated Lockeland Springsteen to a list of her 5 favorite Nashville places to go in sweatpants and not see anyone you know. As someone who seeks a hidden moment in town and through her music, I’ve taken note. (I can’t see you, Lera, if you can’t see me.)
Nashville Five, by Lera Lynn
“Being a touring musician means you do a lot of gabbing and socializing. When I get home and have a few days off, I kinda just wanna keep my mouth shut. I kinda wanna skirt around town in sweatpants and slippers. Here are a few places to keep you entertained and fed while donning house clothes, without running into anyone you know.”
- PLAZA ART SUPPLY: If there’s any place that’s totally cool with sweats, it’s PLAZA. In fact, I think it’s encouraged and expected that you’ll show up in your “work” clothes to re-up on supplies, as you were just toiling away on your next masterpiece and ran out of something. It’s too easy to pass off pajamas or what have you as “paint pants.” I can spend hours in there petting the paintbrushes and smelling the glues in my sweats and no one will think anything of it.
- DOWNTOWN ANTIQUE MALL: While you’re at Plaza, you might as well pop over to the Downtown Antique Mall on 8th. I somehow always find something to take home there. And! On the very rare chance of spotting someone you know whilst wearing your sweats, you can easily duck into one of the many booths and hide. They have great finds too, btw.
- GINGER THAI: I understand that I might be shooting myself in the foot here by sharing this valuable information and thus disabling myself to visit these wonderful places without exposing my casual wear. This one should be heard though, cause it’s, in my humble opinion, the best Thai food in Nashville. EVERYTHING IS DELICIOUS. And I never see friends there. It’s always cold inside so you may want to wear your full on wind suit.
- BOBBY’S IDLE HOUR: Doesn’t everyone know about this bar already? It seems too good to be true that the folks bellied up to the bar there are always strangers but it’s holds true, without fail. Beer only. Sweats and/or overalls encouraged.
- SAM & ZOE’S: Coffee is the liquid of life, obviously. When you get off the road and wake up to a half & half-less fridge, which coffee shop are you gonna hit that’s not littered with your buddies? This one is a challenge. For me, it’s Sam & Zoe’s. They have great coffee and some tasty snacks too.