Every poet needs a muse, that beloved 'other' who inspires awe and fear, love and lust. Luminous and of course unobtainable, the muse takes the dreamer as author to another realm, forever drawn to what is ultimately a beacon for creativity. For the introspective Lael Neale, her signal light comes from within as her unobtainable love is a knowledge of the self.
She is blonde, blue-eyed, and seemingly frail if judging by her frame. Upon hearing her music, however, the active listener experiences anything but frailty, as a self-assured if not courageous honesty pours out in Lael's lyrics. The title of her debut studio album makes an equally bold declaration - I'll Be Your Man, the last thing that one would expect from the face on the album cover.
Raised on a 2,200 acre farm in the pastoral hills of Jefferson and Madison's Virginia, much of Lael's youth was spent building forts and riding horses, with plenty of space for time alone. Fast forwarding to her current home of Los Angeles, one imagines Lael as a fawn walking through rush-hour traffic. Yet the city of four million people is where she chooses to pen her lyrics, not in the solitude and idyllic pastures of her youth, but embroiled in the energy of the masses.
Categorically speaking, Lael Neale is a confessional poet, with a prose that is both casual and colloquial, and like Sylvia Plath before her, Lael uses her verse as an attempt to catalogue despair. I'll Be Your Man walks the listener through Lael's search for her essence, her center - her raison d'être, if you will. Hers is a story told for generations, one of hopelessly romantic motives experienced in arms-length relationships that will never be. Yet listening to the recurring theme makes it clear that Lael is seeking out this feeling again and again, as method, mind you, not as madness. In Because It's Broken Me, we hear her declare "I make love to break love, because it's broken me" - not for the purpose of self-imposed pain, but to experience the depth of the feeling itself, heartache used as a means to understanding her own vital force.
The opening track White Daisy, Lace Gloves tells us that the pain of loss is not a recent occurrence, as Lael sings "I lost the pen, I lost the dress, I lost the fight. I've been learning how to lose my whole life". It's clear that she embraces this process. On Sleep To Remember, Lael tell us that she seeks out this feeling again and again, even in her dreams - "I sleep to remember who I was trying to forget". Though some songs chart actual romantic relationships, many are metaphors for an individual’s relationship to the world that is forever giving and taking away. But while she may be remarking on decay, it is not without acknowledging growth. Ultimately, her simple statement of commitment, “I’ll be your man in the morning until the end,” stands as proof that despite loss, we live and love again.
I'll Be Your Man is a journey - Lael's journey, and though oftentimes melancholic, it is anything but a pit of hopeless desperation. In live performances, she illuminates her experiences and channels life at its essence with a truth that rings out clear as a bell. Lael Neale has the voice of a woman, but the power of her words will convince you that she may just be your man.