Lylas "Lessons For Lovers"

I don’t think I’ve heard a Nashville band that sounds less Nashville than Lylas. The soft-spoken, sugary sheen of Lessons For Lovers, decked out in period cues in a way that is not unlike The Decemberists, very drastically eschews the clichés of the Music City.

Yet, there’s something so utterly Victorian in the rural charm of these songs, that Lylas don’t seem so out of step with Tennessee or the South as a whole (150 years ago, perhaps). Though the music has more in common with Britpop than bluegrass, there are hints of Appalachia in the production, probably attributable to having Bobby Bare Jr. cohort Loney Hutchins at the helm for the recording.

The melodies and production are satisfying enough, but guitarist/vocalist Kyle Hamlett’s dark images of Americana aren’t as blunt or vivid as those of songs that stick out in the folk tradition, i.e. “Knoxville Girl” or “Black Jack David.” Which isn’t an uncommon problem: Hamlett’s penchant for slightly surrealist abstraction simply reminds one that this is, in fact, a modern record.