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Meet Jason Lyles: Albums And Pandemics

Local musician Jason Lyles discusses his new album and how Covid has affected him.

“I met a friend in school who played guitar. He showed me some chords, and then I knew how I wanted to express myself."

Jason Lyles’s passion for music started with his mother’s collection of vinyls. Sitting together on their porch swing, Jason and his mother listened to decades worth of rock and pop music. Encouraged by his mother, he joined the choir in high school where he trained to be a singer. Rather than joining after school clubs or sports, Jason practiced singing and playing guitar for hours.

“After performing in several bands in high school and college, I made the decision to go forward as a solo artist because of the flexibility of performing solo acoustic and for the freedom of creative control,” Jason says.

Jason’s released his new album, Chameleana, on November 23. He first started writing the album while on tour for his previous album The Undersea Acoustic Spree.

“I would come up with lyrics or melodies and record them on my phone while driving through the North Carolina mountains.”

Jason collaborated with several artists for this album. Hannah Kuhn plays the cello, Jeff Bridges plays drums, Stephanie Brooks plays strings and overdubs, and Sandra Hyers provides backing vocals. Gabe Lane is featured on a guitar solo. The tracks are mixed and engineered by Andrew Preavett and mastered by William Bowers.

“The original plan was to release this album in May and push it on another summer tour, then Covid hit.”

With the studio shut down, the momentum driving the album stalled. Jason began losing touch with others working on the album. During this time Jason wrote the anthem “Never Alone.” He wrote the song during the period of isolation “to remind you that there is always someone who cares.” When the studio opened up again, Jason was free to continue recording, with the addition of some new protocols, including wearing masks.

“This album is called Chameleana which is a portmanteau of chameleon and Americana,” Jason says.

Though most of his music has been acoustic Americana rock, this album is a new direction for Jason. “On this album, I didn't want to be locked into an acoustic format. I wanted to let all my colors and influences shine through, hence the chameleon.” This album has some similarities to previous works, such as acoustic guitar, but it also has fresh sounds like electronic beats and synthesizers. Some of Jason’s inspirations include Ian Moore, Keven Griffin, Beck, Matthew Sweet, and Future Thieves.

Jason’s advice for fellow musicians is to always move forward. “If there's not an avenue for live performance during Covid, then do live streams, create music videos, record demos, bank up songs for your next project. There are always avenues to create.” While Jason was able to have some socially distanced performances outside this fall, he plans to create more online content as the weather cools down.

“Overall, I hope this album will be something to inspire people during the ups and downs of life. Hopefully, it will have something that resonates with many experiences.”

You can follow Jason on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to stay up to date on his upcoming projects. Chameleana is streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. Visit his website for CDs, vinyls, posters, and more.

Jason has also just released a Christmas single titl