Like California sunshine on an Appalachian mountain stream
She’s a little bit California cool and a little bit country soul. Sandra Lynn is combining the best of both genres into a fluid style that’s earning attention on both coasts. As an “Artist You Should Know” in the Summer Country Concert series, Sandra Lynn is excited to showcase a fresh interpretation of contemporary country music with a subtle west coast vibe June 30 at the Ritz Theatre and Museum (www.ritzjacksonville.com).
Sandra Lynn will perform songs from her recent EP “Fight” which she divided into a three-part project. The first record was released early this year, and she will continue to release the second and third chapters throughout 2018. The format lends itself to the storytelling aspect of country music.
“For the better part of two years, I was working toward a whole album. I was coming out of the writer’s room with these different songs and different directions. I was noticing how evolving that process was, and I thought ‘why don’t we have the release [be] something that is reflective of this process?’ So instead of putting everything out at once, why don’t we break it up into three pieces and also tell a story in linear way, the way old records did?”
The EP follows a young couple through the push and pull of a relationship, a tumultuous breaking down of that union and a poignant end that she hopes shares the lesson ‘that the grass isn’t always greener.’ It’s romantic and heartbreaking, the way country music should be.
“You kind of start out on this elevated level with this couple and how far are they going to go to fight for this relationship where there is tension involved? They don’t want to go through the break up, but they need to call this quits, because it’s too far gone,” she says. “The last song I kind of want to be an overall reflective message song that, from the outside, it’s that idea to be present in the relationship and don’t wish for someone else. I’m still navigating through this, which is exciting and why I wanted to do it this way. How does the story end?”
Growing up listening to a variety of music, Sandra Lynn always drawn to the storytelling found in country songs. The songs painted a picture and the powerful imagery still resonates. She distinctly recalls hearing Deanna Carter’s ‘Strawberry Wine’ and the way the lyrics awoke her senses. In high school, she was inspired to write poetry that eventually became lyrics which swirled into melodies. Those melodies tumbled into songs, and, before she knew it, Sandra Lynn was heading to Nashville to follow her passion.
“You pull influences from everything you listen to growing up. It just hit me. The whole storytelling aspect and the simplicity,” she says. “I also remember one of the first records my parents had playing in their house was the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer.”
Writing for the record, Sandra Lynn included a nod to her southern California roots centered around the Beach Boys vibe. “All those kinds of elements kind of mesh into that California sound,” she says. She’s worked with some of Nashville’s biggest songwriters, including Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus who produced her 2014 self-titled debut EP, Ross Copperman who co-wrote and produced her hit single “Afterparty” and Jeremy Spillman who co-wrote her debut track “You Belong” with Lori McKenna. Sandra Lynn has also opened for such notable artists as Josh Thompson, Kenny Chesney, Cole Swindell, Kenny Rogers, and Jana Kramer.
Following her dream to Nashville meant getting involved with other writers, finding management, and, hopefully, a place on a country label. Rather than wait for things to happen on their own, the country girl in her took the bulls by the horn. In 2014, Sandra Lynn introduced herself to Music City as a self-released independent artist and everything else soon fell into place.
“I’ve always loved performing. This is what I have to do. I’ve loved singing since I was a kid. I love country music, and this is the kind of music I want to write and sing. I first came out to Nashville in 2010 to dip my toe into the music community out there and really just fell in love. It was from there on out that I started working with different writers and producers and building a team out there of some amazing collaborators,” she says.
“It’s really exciting to have that creative freedom and being able to surround myself and work with people who really believe in me and what I’m doing and share the same vision. I think there is something a little bit liberating in that. At the same time, there are definitely challenges because the music industry is so different than it was, and we have so many different ways to put our music out there. But, it’s also how do we think outside the box and keep doing what we love and getting it out there in front of folks?”
While she is not based full-time in Nashville, she and her husband own a home outside the city, and she commutes as often as she can. “My husband and I are from Los Angeles, but I’ve been spending three quarters of my time working on my music. I consider both states home,” she says. “I’m definitely bi-coastal if you call the Cumberland River a Tennessee coast.”
The benefits of her dual residency shine through sweetly in her tender voice like California sunshine on an Appalachian mountain stream. From the Pacific coast, it’s always the hope of an Endless Summer. “Music for me has always been hopeful, whether its crying my way through the song and feeling a little better at the end of it, or dancing through the tune,” says Sandra Lynn. “That’s what I really try to do with my own music is to have the hopeful element in there.”