Caught halfway between the earthy punch of alt-country music and the dreamy swoon of folk-pop, Lindsey Luff's self-titled debut album tells the story of its creator.
It's a story that begins in Memphis, where Luff was raised in a household with a hard-working mother and absentee father. She began singing during Sunday morning church services, graduating from the children's choir to the worship band. Back at home, the Beatles' records could be heard on the family stereo, rooting Luff's musical upbringing in pop melodies and classic songwriting.
After attending college in Knoxville, Luff and her husband moved to New York City, heading north with no jobs or concrete plans. They were in search of something different: a new skyline, new opportunities, new people. What Luff found was new inspiration, too. As she settled into her adopted hometown, she began writing songs, filling her lyrics with autobiographical details from her own life. It felt like a healing process — like an opportunity to make sense of the things that shaped her.
"Music has been a really healing process for me," she says. "Growing up, I went through a lot, just having an estranged dad and a superhero mom who was always sick. I've had a job since I was 12 years old. I helped take care of my siblings. I got to college and started to feel a lot of anger and frustration, and I think this record is a story of the pain I've gone through in my life. It's me processing that anger, and giving it a name and a face. It adds skin and bones to everything I've dealt with, and it makes it clear that those things don't define me."
Recorded in Nashville and Brooklyn with producer Brian T. Murphy (known for his work with artists like the Lone Bellow), the self-titled Lindsey Luff offers up nine songs about love, loss and leaving. There's sadness here, but there's uplift, too, with Luff finding the silver lining in her own struggles. "Wishing Well" rededicates her love and support to her husband — her longtime supporter and childhood sweetheart — while "Remind Me" turns heartbreak into an anthemic pop song, with the narrator prolonging an inevitable breakup by asking her lover for one last kiss.
A team effort, Lindsey Luff was co-written with a small group of collaborators, including the Lone Bellow's Brian Elmquist. Luff took a similar approach to the recording process, filling the studio with guests — including singer/songwriter Sandra McCracken — while decorating her songs with guitar, violin, piano, pedal steel, harmonies, bass, and the steady pulse of percussion. The result is a lush, lovely album whose songs don't overshadow the challenging circumstances that birthed them.
With her full-length debut, Lindsey Luff makes sense of her past without polishing its raw, rough edges.