One look at Lael Neale and it’s difficult not to compare her to a young Michelle Phillips, who on the peak of her fame embodied the dreamy spirit of the 60s in Los Angeles. Lael, too, has us California dreamin’. Although Lael was raised in Virginia, she now calls Los Angeles her home. And with her effortlessly cool, model-like looks and the breezy romantic music she writes and composes, she exemplifies the vibes of the always-sunny city of angels with ease. She makes it too easy to fall for her.
Her songs are about self-discovery through love and all of its complications, sung with such a close level of intimacy that they come across as personal confessions. With a new album titled I’ll Be Your Man being releases on July 10th, hopeless romantics have found the soundtrack for their summer. It’s only suiting that her first single is titled Born in the Summer.
Our new found crush answered a few questions for us.
How did growing up in Madison VG, shape your music?
It was actually Orange, Virginia, home of James Madison. I grew up surrounded by green rolling hills with horse farms and split rail fences and the distant blue ridge mountains. It all seems frozen in time.
I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming and reading and listening to music. Though I had a few close friends, I felt a bit like an outsider. It was a hard transition from childhood to adolescence. I felt a responsibility to take on all the world’s problems and developed very strong opinions and beliefs about society and human nature. I’ve softened a lot over time, but that teenage dissonance and passion still motivate a lot of my music.
Has Los Angeles provided any additional influences?
Los Angeles is dreamy and city life is exhilarating to me. I’ve never known what it is like to walk out the front door and be surrounded by new faces every day. The amount of activities and creative voices and styles is both inspiring and overwhelming. I miss the silence of the country, but I absorb so many images and impressions and ideas that my songs have become richer for all the noise.
How does your creative process work?
I’m becoming very disciplined and routine-oriented. I’ve spent a lot of time in the self-inflicted pain of not making just because the inspiration wasn’t there, and I finally realize that you just have to do it every day; to write through the blocks even if the words are trite and the melodies dull.
Where and how was the album recorded?
Marlon Rabenreither (Gold Star) recorded the album at a home studio in east hollywood. I would play the songs on guitar and sing so that we had the foundation and then each day we’d invite a new player and instrument onto the track. First drums, then bass, then organ, etc. Marlon is an incredibly tasteful, intuitive producer, and especially good at arrangements that leave space and lift the vocals. I wrote the songs, but he completed the vision.
Can you explain to us the title of your album and how that came about?
It comes directly from a short song on my album – more of an interlude – called “I’ll Be Your Man in the Morning”. One beautiful aspect of writing music is that we have poetic license to deviate from form. The words “woman” and “man” are so loaded (while the line between seems to be becoming more and more blurry) that it’s fun and freeing to substitute one with the other and see how it feels.
We love your style. Do you have any favorite style icons?
Well, thank you! I’d say… Jane Birkin, Francoise Hardy & Patti Smith
You’re an English major. Any favorite writers?
Steinbeck, Joan Didion, Nabokov, but I’ve been more into poetry lately; Rumi, Anne Sexton, Mary Oliver & James Tate
What’s next for you?
I want to travel in Europe to play music.