Country music star Jessica Lynn brings her Live Out Loud tour to the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
Rising country star Jessica Lynn certainly believes in keeping it in the family. Her band includes her dad on bass, mum on backing vocals and husband on lead guitar.
When The Guide spoke with Jessica, she had just arrived in Germany on her two-month Live Out Loud European tour, which brings her to Portsmouth next week.
So is there ever any friction between Jessica and her family?
‘Any business where you’re spending long hours with people, you’re travelling a lot and people get tired and sometimes they get cranky. It can be hard being on tour, but it’s amazing getting to share these experiences with the people who mean the most to me.
‘The best way I could describe it is like when you’re in the car and you see the most beautiful sunset, so you try and take a picture of it on your cellphone, and it never looks as good as it does in reality. But I never have to call my parents to say: “You should have seen this woman crying because my song meant so much to her.” They get to see it right there, as it is.
‘That’s what creates a really special bond, and I love that.’
But does she ever have to pull rank?
‘Of course!’ she says without hesitation and laughs. ‘I’m a very tough boss. There’s actually a documentary that comes along on the DVD of my new TV special that shows the making of, and it’s interesting to see the family dynamic as well as the professional dynamic. But they totally respect that it’s my vision and my project and they’re all super-supportive the whole way.
‘You know you can always count on them to have your best interests at heart, which you can’t always say in this business.’
The Brooklyn, New York native, has been touted across the water as the next Shania Twain and over the past few years has been busy touring hard and playing on the same stage as country superstars such as Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Hank Williams Jr, Jo Dee Messina and Loretta Lynn.
Jessica has a string of EPs and singles under her belt – the most recent, Let’s Don't cracked the American Country Music Chart top 40. But it is her two TV specials of full concerts which have garnered the most attention, and she’s about to release a new one – which will be broadcast in the UK on the Freeview and satellite channel Spotlight TV later this month.
‘It’s so hard to sell albums in this day and age, which is why we’ve done singles and EPs up to this point, but we’ve got a brand new television special coming out.
‘It comes with a live album which I’m really excited about that. That album is music that I’m really proud of. That TV special was singer-songwriter-type show, all done acoustically, so every song really means something to me. To listen to the album of all these songs which are really special to me in my life, is really cool. I can’t wait for people to hear it. We will have copies of it on tour, so the people who come see us play will be the first who get to hear it, and then after that it will be released commercially once the show hits the air.’
Jessica has been a regular visitor to these shores – as well as previous tours here, she played at the Stockport-based country music festival Boots and Buckles back in May, and she shared a bill with ZZ Top at Ramblin’ Man in 2017. A big fan of the big-bearded rock legends, she’s been known to play their 1975 single Tush live. And when the trio played the Arena Hainaut in France she supported them again.
She says of the latter: ‘It was a great experience and I got to meet (ZZ Top frontman) Billy Gibbons backstage – but I didn’t take a picture with him because he was already in his pyjamas after the show and I didn’t want to do that, it didn't seem appropriate.
‘They were very cute pyjamas though, with these little patterns on,’ she laughs.
Although things are looking up on the musical front, Jessica’s early experiences on the music biz inspired her to make sure she has a fall-back plan, just in case.
‘I had a band when I was 16 that was really close to a record deal with Disney, but because of other members in the band it didn’t work out, it was a sad story, actually.
‘But back then, even at a young age I learned how crazy the music business can be – one day you can be on top of the word and the next day in the gutter – so I was always very school smart and graduated at the top of my class.
‘I said I should just get a solid back-up plan, something I’m really passionate about in case I want to stop playing music or something else happens, so I love kids and I love making a difference for people like we do with music.
‘For me teaching is very much like music, you have an audience which you have to captivate and entertain and show them something. Working with kids is so great, so I have a masters in special education and also a bachelors in math.’
Jessica was actually still studying as her music started to take off, which meant a fair bit of burning the candle at both ends.
‘I was filming my first TV special in America while I was studying and doing my degree, it was so difficult. I would be playing and rehearsing until 2-3am and then up at 5.30am to go do my student teaching.
‘The day I got my degree was like: “Oh, I can sleep now!”’
SUPPORTED BY LILY GARLAND
The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
Wednesday, August 14