There are some who take Jaymay's songs very, very seriously, filling her MySpace inbox with adoring messages and stories about how her songs have moved them, or even changed their lives. "It's a very intense loyalty," she says of these fans. "They don't take it lightly."
It's not terribly hard to understand. When a friend sent me Jaymay's Joni Mitchell-esque heartbreaker "Sea Green, See Blue" on a mixtape, I rewound that song so often I nearly wore out the cassette. It may not have changed my life, but then again, I can't remember anything else from that tape.
As a little girl, Long Island native Jaymay (a.k.a. Jamie Kristen Seerman) loved everything from Cat Stevens to Madonna. Then, at age 10, she discovered Highway 61 Revisited, ushering her into a life-long obsession with Bob Dylan. "Everything I have of him is broken and messed up because I've listened to it so much," she says with a laugh. While she had always experimented with songwriting -- "writing silly songs about my dog," she says -- it wasn't until college that she finally picked up a guitar.
With her clear, sophisticated voice -- not to mention her undying allegiance to New York City -- Jaymay is Feist-ish, if Feist were a bit less Jane Birkin and a little more Diane Keaton circa Annie Hall. And the Dylan factor? More than anything, he seems to have taught her the delicate art of the long story: "You'd Rather Run," the centerpiece of her 2007 record Autumn Fallin', clocks in at almost 10 minutes, and the original version of "Sea Green, See Blue" had about 60 verses.
Jaymay has occasionally been lumped rather lazily into the clichéd category of "a girl with a guitar," and Rolling Stone ended a December 2007 review by demanding, "Somebody bring back Lilith Fair! We've totally found your headliner!" Jaymay seems vaguely mystified by this categorization. "People think, 'Oh, it's just a girl singing about love,' and it's like, well yeah. What does anyone write about? So does Coldplay."
While touring Europe earlier this year, she generally opened for male acts like Bright Eyes, Beirut and Okkervil River. "You go on stage, and you have a guitar, and everyone rolls their eyes, like 'Oh God, a girl singer-songwriter.'" Then, of course, she starts playing. And if her MySpace inbox is any indication, she won't need to lose sleep over eye-rolling audiences.
Jaymay with Fink. 7:30 p.m. Sat., June 14 (6 p.m. doors). Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com
- Girl with a guitar case: Jaymay