An Exquisite Tapestry of Americana & Country, Joseph LeMays ‘Seventeen Acres’ was Crafted in an Abandoned Singlewide

Joseph LeMay
Joseph LeMay

Joseph LeMay has been receiving many accolades since the independent release of his debut album, Seventeen Acres, on May 20th, 2014. Although a newcomer to the scene, Joseph LeMay has been developing his voice as a songwriter and producer for several years, observing and working with his longtime mentor and veteran producer, Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Brett Dennen, Switchfoot, The Lone Bellow). LeMay’s ability to tastefully wear the hats of both artist and producer is what makes his Seventeen Acres stand out as an album of note.

LeMay has been named as one of the 25 finalists by American Songwriter for American Songspace’s Secret Road Pub Deal songwriting competition. CMT Edge recently premiered a video of “Redwing” performed live inside the trailer in which the album came to be, a song which CMT Edge’s Chris Parton calls a “careful, patiently swelling track.”

PopDose’s Keith Creighton says of Seventeen Acres, “Rarely has an album by a complete unknown hit me like a ton of bricks the way Joseph LeMay’s stunning debut has…The music is an exquisite tapestry of Americana and Country… a stellar debut from an insanely promising artist… Seventeen Acres’ appeal extends way beyond the boundaries of the current Americana boom. Fans of Crowded House, Tom Petty, Iron & Wine, Paul Simon and countless others will welcome the tales of this gifted storyteller.”

“It is a love story of ‘two old teenagers’ told over a dusty Americana arrangement… LeMay hits both notes &  emotional buttons in his delivery,” writes Danny McCloskey of The Alternate Root. “His vocals have a tone a little like Jim James, particularly on ‘Fruit on the Vine’. Both singers offer a barely disguised falsetto that seems to always be hinting that it could break free.”

The story of Seventeen Acres began unfolding when LeMay and his new bride, Molly, packed up their belongings and moved out of the hustle of Nashville and into a singlewide trailer in West Tennessee on her grandfather’s hand-me-down 17 acre farm. They patched up the old trailer, cleared the grass that had grown up through the cracks on the floors, freed the space of copperheads and spiders, and sorted through decades of stacked boxes filled with old family memories.

Joseph found himself in a drastically new season of life.  He was a married man, alone in the woods, between two towns you’ve never heard of.  With little to do but reflect and work on his craft, LeMay’s new life and songwriting began to grow alongside one another.  They tangled to form the tapestry of reflection, prophecy, and fulfillment that became Seventeen Acres.

“It’s like sitting under a magnifying glass,” says LeMay of the isolation of rural Tennessee. “Writing this record, I was constantly alone and in a period of self-doubt. I was worried I wouldn’t measure up as a new husband and as a songwriter, more or less thrown out in the wilderness.”

“His music embodies the story-teller tradition of country/roots music,” notes American Songwriter. “His sound harkens back to a calmer, peaceful era and creates a timelessness that makes it easy to engage the listener.”

“Music fulfills a need,” says LeMay. “It’s communicating across mediums. We don’t just want words. It’s the color and the canvas. The cadence and the lyric.” It’s with a balanced grasp of bare truth and pursuit of grace that LeMay channels this primal need in the desolation of his Seventeen Acres.

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