This October John Lafayette Ramey Releases His 3rd Full-Length Album, Exposition Lines

John Lafayette Ramey is a familiar face on the Los Angeles roots music scene.  Although his own music isn’t in the country genre, he’s played sideman for some of the best country musicians around; Grant Langston, Dave Insley, Ted Russell Kamp and Austin Hanks to name a few.  Ramey even played Gibson Amphitheatre with Austin Hanks opening for Lynrd Skynrd. Exposition Lines is Ramey’s third solo release and carries elements of both roots rock and straight-up pop music.  “I’ve always been more on the pop side than say, Grant Langston or Austin Hanks,” the artist clarified.  “I became involved in the LA roots music scene not because I harbored ambitions to play roots or country music, but because as it turned out, the folks in the roots music scene were the people that could actually play.  I love folk, country, blues, and R&B, and all the great Americana musics, and it’s all a huge influence, but it’s not how I define myself as an artist.” 

LA drummer, Jim Doyle, who also played on the record, produces.  “I hired Jim to play a handful of gigs and they were great.  He’s a tremendous musician.  He mentioned that he had a studio and wanted to record my music,” said Ramey.  “Jim was the perfect guy for me to work with in the studio.  He keeps it light, he’s efficient as hell, he doesn’t let me get too deep into my own tsunami of artistic doubt and he has a tremendous sense of what makes a record good.”  

Ramey, a multi-instrumentalist, composes on both piano and guitar.  Well-known as a bass player, Ramey covered the instrument plus lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar.  The two pulled in friends and stalwarts of the LA music scene; Sam Park on guitar, Dan Wistrom on pedal steel and electric six string, Carl Byron on keys, Grant Langston on acoustic guitar and Davey Meshell on backup vocals.  “There’s a reason I chose this band,” said Ramey.  “I can just let them do their thing.  I play them the song, and then I don’t say much until they are individually satisfied with what they do. I rarely gave them any direction beyond the song itself as I presented it on acoustic guitar.  We’ve played gigs with each other and been on bills with one another for 10 years at this point, so there’s great trust for one another.”  

Ramey named the record Exposition Lines because; as he explains “I gave up driving a car halfway through the recording of this album.  To get to Jim’s studio in Del Rey, I consistently rode the new metro rail line running from downtown LA to the west side—the Exposition Line.”  

The 10-song record kicks off with  “Cheap Rent”, a “fast, loud, snotty song” inspired by some Ramones live concert footage. On “Amelia” the band plays with great restraint and use of space on the track. “Jenny” has a good riff with solid inspired pop songwriting, “Jenny say break up /Jenny say die/Jenny want the whole truth written in the sky/Jenny want a boyfriend”  

“Troubled Soulful Mama of the Deepest Blue” is a powerful song with powerful lyrics, “Fiery reactions when spirits collide// The heat from a thousand explosions that could never die// But shockwaves are fleeting and die, yeah, we do//My troubled, soulful mama of the deepest blue”.  

Ramey is known for inserting some self-deprecation into his songwriting and the chorus of “Sad Song Sad Town” bears this out “Hey boy, you’re gonna get older and the weight on your shoulder Don’t give a shit So get used to it”. “I didn’t realize this at first, but I think this song was inspired by the birth of my first nephew,” he admits. “Not the message of this song specifically, but it presented to me a kind of generational perspective that I had not yet approached in my work.” The record ends with “Still With Me” a song inspired by Willie Nelson—“I love the candor and the sadness in the way Willie sings,” he notes, “So I tried it out with this song.”    

Some final thoughts on Exposition Lines…“The actual guts of the music, whether it’s country, or rock n’ roll or post-rock and roll pop, is all the same,” states Ramey. “It’s the stuff I like, and it’s how I want my music to sound:  4/4 or 3/4 (or some variation), straight and shuffle, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos, organs, drum kits, harmonies, etc.  Sometimes more, but the basic ingredients are the same, whether it’s Lou Reed or Ray Charles or Willie Nelson.”