LYNN NEARY, HOST:
Time now for a little surf noir guitar - and attached to it, the sultry sounds of Lera Lynn.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DRIVE")
LERA LYNN: (Singing) It's late, too late to run. Besides, this night ain't the one.
NEARY: If you watched the second season of "True Detective" on HBO, you might recognize Lera Lynn and her voice. She played a melancholy barroom singer. Ms. Lynn also contributed some original tunes to the program. Now the singer and multi-instrumentalist has just released her third album. It's called "Resistor." And Lera Lynn joins us now from Nashville. Good to have you with us.
LYNN: Why, thank you.
NEARY: Now I have to confess I had never heard the term surf noir before I saw it in a review on NPR Music of "Resistor." I wondered how you would describe your music and if that surf noir description works for you.
LYNN: (Laughter) You know, I think it can be difficult to describe my music with one or two words because, you know, this record in particular explores many different styles. I think it's at once dark and provocative. It's a little left of center, you know. I hope that it explores the full emotional spectrum.
NEARY: Well, let's talk about the first cut on the album. It's called "Shape Shifter." And I read that you wrote it while you were working on "True Detective" because you wanted to somehow balance the gloom and doom of that program. Is that true?
LYNN: (Laughter) Yes. Yeah, working on the music for "True Detective," we had to dig deep and really sedate ourselves, you know, to set the tone for the characters in the film. And I went home and just wanted to write something that was fun and, you know, provocative and sexy and out came "Shape Shifter."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHAPE SHIFTER")
LYNN: (Singing) Shape shifter, let me catch a glimpse. You've got life's love to push against. Oh, keep speaking. I am a swirl of lust, a funnel of desire sucking up your dust. Shape shifter so no one knows how to get you on the line.
NEARY: So you said you wanted to write something fun and sexy and provocative. I mean, when you set out to create that kind of a sound, how do you go about doing that? Are you hearing something in your head? Do you have to play with the instruments?
LYNN: You know, this song in particular was a pretty interesting pursuit. I tried something that I had never tried before when writing. I kind of had a glass of wine or two, and I sat down in my house and I listened to "Dark Side Of The Moon" (laughter).
NEARY: The Pink Floyd album.
LYNN: And I sort of was moving, swirling my body around in this chair just trying to capture this feeling of weightlessness and dizziness and the feeling of being completely overcome with lust and desire.
NEARY: (Laughter) So can we say inspired by "Dark Side Of The Moon" (laughter)?
LYNN: Sure (laughter). I don't know that anyone will relate those two, but sure.
NEARY: Now, you've said about "Resistor" - you said there's a slope - I'm going to quote you here now. "There's a slow-burning intensity that at times sounds a little spooky. It's creepy and lovely."
Do you like writing creepy?
LYNN: I do. It's very easy for me or natural, rather. And I feel like there's so many different areas to explore within that realm, you know. There's kind of the sad creepy. There's the twisted creepy. There's the vengeful creepy. And all of it is enticing for me as a writer.
NEARY: How do you make creepy and lovely work together?
LYNN: It's all in the delivery.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU RUN THE NIGHT")
LYNN: (Singing) A rose for affection, a thorn for the heart, diamonds for rejection , a good place to start.
When we do this one live, I feel like the audience is almost kind of stunned after the last solemn bass note. And I particularly enjoy having that effect on a group of people.
NEARY: So how did you develop this kind of spooky sound we've been talking about? Did you like horror films? It almost sounds like it's influenced by horror films in a way.
LYNN: I'm not really a fan of horror films.
LYNN: They scare me. Years ago, some friends of mine were putting together a Johnny Cash tribute show in Athens, Ga., and they asked me to cover "Ring Of Fire," and that was a challenge because that song has been covered so many times. And I started fiddling around with it and decided to change it into a minor key, and I just landed on something that really worked for me. It really struck a chord with me. And I think ever since then, I've been able to sort of tap into that horror movie-type feeling.
(SOUNDBITE SONG, "RING OF FIRE")
LYNN: (Singing) Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire.
NEARY: Now people have said that this album is different from your other two in that the lyrics are less front and center - that the record here is maybe a bit more about mood and atmospherics. Do you feel that way?
LYNN: I think the lyrics are a bit more succinct on this record than my previous ones. And I have noticed that with the songwriting on "Resistor," there is less focus on storytelling and more on describing a feeling or a moment or a vibe. As a songwriter, that's a challenge that I've really enjoyed, you know, just trying to stretch, you know, one second of feeling into four minutes.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SCRATCH + HISS")
LYNN: (Singing) Every scratch and hiss...
NEARY: Lera Lynn's new album is called "Resistor." Lera, it was great talking with you.
LYNN: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Lynn.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SCRATCH + HISS")
LYNN: (Singing) Hauled and windowed away, drowsy and unknown, hammering each...
NEARY: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.
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