When AJ Lee’s crisp, bluesy voice enters at the top of her new song, “Lemons & Tangerines,” it becomes immediately clear that you’re listening to an incredibly talented vocalist. With laser-focused control—delivering blue notes with just the perfect amount of breakup—it’s almost like Bobbie Gentry reborn in a modern setting.
Released July 22 with her band, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, “Lemons & Tangerines” blossoms into an infectious acoustic romp. Between the interplay among the instrumental lines, the passion conveyed in Lee’s voice and the grooving feel of the rhythmic engine, everything comes together to seamlessly produce Americana perfection. Yet, like a lot of great Americana songs, this one came to be as a result of some pure, down-to-Earth living and observations.
“I write my best when I’m sipping some whiskey on my back porch,” Lee explains to American Songwriter. “So, I was lounging in my backyard, admiring the fruit trees when it hit me: grafted trees are cool. Nature is beautiful and we should not take the little things for granted.”
While that might seem like a pretty simple message on the surface—and, well, it is a pretty simple message—there’s more behind Lee’s words than you might think. On a grander scale, a theme like “Nature provides, don’t take that for granted” can be applicable to almost all aspects of our lives. To that end, Lee explained that songwriting is often the best vehicle for making sense of her world.
“To me, it’s easier to convey feelings with music, rhythm, and lyrics than with words,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll have a feeling that I want to get off my chest. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what that feeling is because it can be complicated, but at least I can get something on the paper (I like using paper and pen to see how much I’m scribbling—too many scribbles could mean I should take a break). Each song might have a different process, but usually, I can either write the whole song in 15 minutes or a month. It all depends on how hard and for how long that inspiration hits.”
On the day Lee was admiring her tree, inspiration surely hit and the song that was born of it bears that fruit.
AJ Lee & Blue Summit’s new single “Lemons and Tangerines” is out now—listen to it below: