“’You remind me of Joni Mitchell.’ I get that all the time,” says folk-pop singer/songwriter Jamie Drake, laughing. Drake is discussing the reactions she usually gets to her, “authentic Laurel Canyon folk vibe.” This June the Los Angeles-based musician released her sophomore LP, New Girl, via AntiFragile Music, and she’s currently on a U.S. tour that will have her headlining The Lounge at World Café Live this coming Wednesday, August 10th. During a recent phone chat, she tells me that the audience can expect something both eclectic and uplifting: “I like to have a Q&A, tell jokes, I like to interact with the audience. As a musician, I like to spread light to people and raise the vibration in the room, but I’m not trying to be super rich or famous… But that would help [laughs].”
Jamie’s debut album, Everything’s Fine, was released in 2019, but I find out during our chat that it’s not technically her first album: “It’s funny that my last record is considered my debut. I feel like a lot of musicians just share stuff because they want to, but I wanted it to be really good. I didn’t start pursuing music as a career until 2008 and I put out an album back then, but you didn’t know that because I took it down [laughs].” Although, she does tell me that the album, which she funded with her divorce income, has found a fanbase and will likely see the light of day again at some point.
Although it wasn’t until recently that live audiences got a chance to hear Everything’s Fine, Drake tells me that it did receive a lot of touching responses, despite the recent state of the world: “I put out Everything’s Fine in fall of 2019, so I didn’t get to tour it, obviously, but I had people writing me from all over the world, at the worst time in history, telling me that my music was keeping them alive.” However, she tells me that even with just a few years in-between, the inspiration and narrative to her follow-up is already very different: “The overall message of the first album is hope and the overall message of the second album is freedom. New Girl is a mirror of myself over the last few years.” She also tells me that the process of recording has changed quite a bit between the two albums.
“For Everything’s Fine it took four years to make that record. (The reason it took so long to record, though, is because I was in a lot of other projects at the time.) It was more of a pop production. We would do 20 or 30 takes and take the best ones and paste them together. New Girl had a much more organic approach. Almost all of my vocal takes were single takes. It was more of a live approach, like the early 1970s, when a lot of my folk heroes went into the studio.”
Like her previous LP, New Girl has apparently already gotten some really great and intimate responses: “There’s been a lot of really good reactions online. A lot of people will write in and tell me how my music helps them heal… The fans that tend to find me are the ones who align with my ideals the closest, wanting to be as authentic as possible, while still maintaining a sense of hope.” Discussing the album’s first single, “Easy Target,” she emphasizes the juxtaposition between the sound and sentiment of the song, which is likely (and sadly) relatable to most of us: “I’ve had a string of relationships in my life where I’ve maybe settled in a way. So, in that song, I’m asking myself, ‘Have I made myself an easy target? Have I been too easy for someone to get?’ But it sounds lighthearted, with early ‘70s production.”
The retro singer/songwriter also thinks it may be important for fans to know that she started her musical career a little later than many other artists… and she’s totally great with that: “I feel like I’ve done a good job in the time I’ve been doing it. I mean, I didn’t start my career until I was 29, so I was no spring chicken, not like my peers who started making music when they were 18 or 22, and I’m gonna be 43 in September. But if you’re happy and love what you’re doing, you’re on your mission.”
Jamie Drake plans to be on the road through August and September, but before wrapping our chat, she admits that she does have some even more significant travel planned for the near future… and to our second-favorite city, nonetheless: “I’ve been trying to leave L.A. for the past few years, because I feel like I’ve outgrown that space so much. I feel like I’m in a brand-new chapter in my life, see what it’s like to try out Nashville. I have a lot of friends there and I think the music community is a lot more accepting and warm there.”
*Get your tickets here.