Listening to Jory Lyle is a little like listening to a classic, 1970s folk-rock record. While he hasn’t been around quite that long, Lyle’s music career does span more than 20 years. He has toured across the U.S. with several bands and experimented with various musical styles. A true ramblin’ man, Lyle was raised in Minnesota, went to college in Ohio, lived in Southwest California, relocated to Southwest Florida and is now happy to call Northeast Florida “home.” The only time he ever stopped making music was a five-year break to raise his child. He couldn’t stay away from music any longer, however. Now he’s back.
“I started playing covers just to get my chops back, practice, and to make money,” Lyle told Folio Weekly. “The motivation [to get back into music] was that I can’t rest until these songs get recorded.”
They got recorded, and the result is Lyle’s new EP, Still Drunk from Breakfast. It’s an arch collection of down-on-your-luck, even downright self-deprecating Americana tunes. Each four tracks are accompanied by individual lyric videos. Live favorite, “I’m Out,” boasts a wry promotional clip produced by Tyler Shore and directed, Lyle says (wryly, of course), by the universe. His car broke down during the production, and he ran with it.
“I think why people respond so much to that song is because we’ve all been in that dead-end job or relationship or whatever it may be,” Lyle said, “and it’s easy to relate to that because you want out.”
There’s an obvious and surreal humor to the humdrum that Lyle describes in his songs, but he hopes listeners will dig deeper and discover layers of nuance. The guitar solos and steady, melodic drums of “Don’t Fall” provide a musical experience that feels like an indie-movie soundtrack. Both “Don’t Fall” and “Letter” share similar instruments, tone and feeling, but they are vastly different in meaning.
“‘Letter’ is the only political song I’ve ever written in my life,” said Lyle. “And it’s very much a not-happy-with-the-state-of-the-world kind of thing.” It’s not necessarily about the present moment, though. Lyle began working on the lyrics some 20 years ago. Still, he said he feels the same way now. “Either I’m not evolving or the world’s not evolving,” Lyle laughed.
Improvisation is Lyle’s best friend during the creative process. Even if he has a plan or two for the direction in which a song could go, he leaves room for the song to become what it needs to be. He has a studio at his disposal where he can record music, so he’ll go to be by himself with the music to experiment and reflect. “I start working and here’s the structure of the song. Where do I want to go with it?” Lyle explained. “Here’s the bassline, and maybe it turns into something I didn’t expect, and it evolves. Chaos breeds brilliance, man.”