Now based in Los Angeles, Virginia native Lael Neale released her debut album last month.
Lael Neale’s current home couldn’t be more disparate than the home of her youth.
Raised just outside Charlottesville, in the heart of Albemarle County horse country, Lael has since made the move to Los Angeles, from which she released her debut record, I’ll Be Your Man, last month.
As Los Angeles is to Charlottesville, so to is this record a study in contrast. Prone to writing with an air of melancholy, Lael has penned a record that seeps and introspective sadness, with stories of lost love and fractured friendships. Despite painting what appears to be a sky gloomy and gray, Lael does mix in the occasional ray of sunshine, proving that the subject matter in her songcraft can move deftly between despair and hope.
I recently caught up with Lael to chat about the new record, poetry, and what she misses most about her Virginia home.
BRO – I know you are into poetry. What’s the last poem that made you cry?
LN – Just a few days ago, my mom gave be a book of poetry by Peggy Freydberg, who was 90 when she started writing poems and didn’t publish them until she was 106. I was only halfway through the first one with tears already welling up. She is so simple and true and direct and unexpected. Some of the lines just catch you at the the throat. It’s also such a beautiful story. We can be beginners at any age.
BRO – Who is your favorite poet? And if you could invite him over for dinner, what would you cook?
LN – Favorites are always changing. For the past year, it has been Rumi. I would want to feed him some simple but symbolic foods. Homemade bread, wine, figs, and maybe artichokes. Those sound like foods Rumi would eat in his courtyard, surrounded by tapestries and water fountains and small birds in wooden cages.
BRO – You were raised in Virginia but now call Los Angeles home. What’s the one thing you miss most about Virginia?
LN – Early August afternoon thunderstorms.
BRO – We are featuring “Born in the Summer” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
LN – “Born in the Summer” isn’t as lyrically dense as some of my songs, but it’s no less heavy. I wanted it to reflect the angst of being a teenager. Childhood’s death is kind of traumatic and we don’t really acknowledge it as a culture, so kids move into being adults really fast, absorbing a lot of the darker side of the world that was kept hidden from them as children. It’s also an exciting time, wanting to live up to something, but not really knowing what it is yet.
BRO – So much of your music seems so sad. What is one thing that makes you happy?
LN – A long walk and a really great cup of coffee.
Tonight, if you happen to be out in California, you can catch Lael Neale in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel. There are more dates on the horizon, but they are hush hush. For more information on on those upcoming dates, or how you can get a copy of her brand new record, please point your browser towards her website.
Photo by Piper Ferguson.