Lera Lynn’s 2011 solo debut, the cheekily-titled “Have You Met Lera Lynn?” was a collection of moody Americana that introduced the world to her mesmerizing, haunting vocals. The album came across as remarkably accomplished for a first effort by a little-known artist born in Houston and based for a time in Athens, Ga., and seemed to presage an artist on her way to making a mark.
Her new record, “The Avenues,” which Lynn will be previewing along with her producer and collaborator Josh Grange at Club Passim on Thursday, comes out in early September. Like its predecessor, the new album exudes a sort of atmospheric coherence; Lynn, speaking from her Nashville home, calls it “vibey.” It has something to do with the singular character of her voice and the way she uses it, but Lynn also attributes the quality to the way she made the record.
Whereas her first album was captured piecemeal over several months, “The Avenues” was mostly recorded “live as a band over the course of five days, in the same room, more or less,” Lynn says. “I think that plays a really important role in the sound of the record. It just has a certain feel to it, a mood that carries through every song.”
“The Avenues” began to take shape via extended conversations between Lynn and Grange after the two met while on tour with k.d. lang in 2012. Lynn was opening, and Grange was playing steel guitar in lang’s band.
“We spent a lot of time just hanging out and playing music,” Lynn says. “I was talking with Josh in depth about the type of record I wanted to make, and he was trying to help me find the right producer.” Eventually, it occurred to her that the ideal producer was right in front of her.
During a separate conversation, Grange recalls that Lynn kept suggesting that he should produce her album. Back home in Los Angeles, he got a couple of guys together when Lynn was visiting “just to record, pass the day, have some fun. The results of that were really good, and she liked it, so she decided that I was going to produce.”
Lynn says that she and Grange also did a lot of listening to favorite old records, pointing out what they liked about production, songwriting, and sounds. Some of the albums they spun, like J.J. Cale’s “Troubadour,” had a discernible influence. But she also name-checks a more surprising artist: Conway Twitty.
“He’s such an amazing singer,” Lynn explains. “I think I take a lot from him for vocal inflection and phrasing, and certain intervals that he favors in his singing.”
After all of the talking and listening, Lynn thinks, Grange had a pretty good idea of the aesthetic that she wanted to achieve. On starting to make the record, he asked her to gather anything that might yield material — demos, partially written scraps, tracks that she had already recorded with a band but never released. He took particular interest in songs that were mostly just ideas.
“He wanted me to finish those, or flesh them out fully,” Lynn says. “There was one song, ‘Letters,’ a really old song that I released with my first band. He wanted to rearrange that song and re-record it, which we did. It’s a lot different than it used to be.”
Grange notes that this is his typical approach to producing a record. “I try to figure out which songs are the strongest, which would make the most interesting record and still be a little bit similar in some way, so that nothing sticks out too much. So we still made a record-based record, with the idea of producing a group of songs that create a certain mood, that all belong together, as opposed to today when people are just releasing singles.”
Its moody ethos aside, “The Avenues” is much harder to characterize than Lynn’s first record. She wasn’t necessarily trying to make a different-sounding record, she says; that’s just the way it worked out. And more generally, she didn’t necessarily want to make an Americana record.
“There are the Americana and folk-songwriter influences in there, but there are other things, too,” she asserts. “I didn’t want to make a record that sounded like any other record. I just wanted to take certain elements of records that I loved, mostly older music. I’ve never really tried to put that into words. It’s easier to say, ‘I want to make a record that sounds like this,’ and then put on a record.”email@example.com.