Lael Neale, solo singer/songwriter
Lo-fi, lilting, acoustic folk-rock. Discography to date includes Bending Sunlight (2010) and I'll Be Your Man (2014).
In a hyper-connected, constantly on-the-go world, sometimes what’s needed is the chance to kick back, chill out and enjoy some lilting, mellow sounds. Lael Neale knows this: and that’s why her emotionally-charged, stripped-down performances of songs like ‘Bending Sunlight’ or ‘Hanged Man’ create a hushed reverance.
Lael’s background reflects the folksy ambience of her music. “I grew up on a farm in central Virginia,” she recalls, “and I think the solitude and boredom was a huge influence in me picking up the guitar and singing. It was a better remedy to boredom than running around the house five times. The bluegrass music I was raised on affects my melodies and chord progression, while figures like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan made me really inspired to tell important stories with unique images while staying true to what I know, or to my own truth. Oh, and listening to lots and lots and lots of Slayer.”
Those influences have clearly had a big impact on Lael’s sound, but she hints that in the future she may expand on her aesthetic, taking her career in new directions. “My sound is pretty straightforward and simple,” she says, “not necessarily by choice, but because I taught myself how to play the guitar and sing so I'm kind of self-limiting. I would love to grow and expand to using different sounds and instrumentation and break away from the folk genre.”
In the meantime, Lael’s folk stylings have snared her a good deal of success on the live circuit. She lists her proudest moment to date as “getting to play music and write songs with one of my favorite songwriters, Trevor Garrod.” (Garrod has also performed for BAMM). Honing her stage presence has taken some practice, however, and Lael has worked to overcome shyness. “I think the worst moment [of my career] might have been when I was in a room full of really talented, young musicians who I admire a lot and it was late at night and everyone was sharing their songs and I wanted to so badly, but was too timid. Timidity might be my biggest weakness and a definite goal of mine is to be bold and confident without being imposing or overbearing.” For someone with a sound so accomplished, it may seem bizarre to hear such uncertainties – but that also adds a warm, human slant to her work.
She describes her favourite contemporaries as “some of the local LA bands I've gotten to know and respect greatly… Dawes, Local Natives, He's My Brother, She's My Sister. As for bands outside of L.A, I listen to a lot of Dr. Dog, Deer Tick, Avett Brothers, Fruit Bats. My female contemporaries whose music I am completely in love with are Jessica Lea Mayfield and Sharon van Etten. These are all just off the top of my head.”