Logan Lynn knows Old Portland.
Lynn came to Portland in 1996, fleeing a fundamentalist Christian upbringing. ("I grew up in a cult, frankly," he says.) With a bedroom demo of wounded electro-pop disguising soul-baring subject matter behind disco glitz, he befriended many of the mid-'90s stalwarts of Portland music scene, like Elliott Smith and the Dandy Warhols, eventually signing to the latter's Beat the World Records, a Caroline/EMI subsidiary.
But that doesn't mean he misses it.
"I'm not pro-gentrification. I'd love us to have a better plan for the people being left behind or displaced," he says.
"There was a part of that scene that was mostly about getting high and not having jobs. I don't know if I feel super-protective of that part of it. You can't wish for something that's not based in reality to last forever."
Lynn has had his own issues. He overdosed in 2008, and though he's been clean since, he says the pressures of being signed to a major label made it more difficult to navigate sobriety. That same year, midtour, he "freaked out" and quit. "I walked away and sent a press release to everyone about my career suicide, in the middle of the night," he says. "I went and worked at a community center the next day. I needed to reclaim my humanity on some level."
Devoting more time to queer and mental health activism, Lynn eventually partnered with Trillium Family Services to found Keep Oregon Well, a campaign to reduce the stigmas surrounding mental and behavioral health, in 2014.
"I had a very marginalizing experience where I felt invisible," Lynn says, describing his childhood in the church. But now? "I have something in me that fights against the invisibility."
That openness and honesty guides his new album, Adieu. Written with longtime collaborator Gino Mari, it's more bare than anything Lynn has released before. It's also less buried beneath technology, more indebted to Liz Phair, the Innocence Mission, the Sundays and a childhood favorite, Amy Grant.
"The idea was to make a record that was about Logan when he was young and first getting excited about music," Mari says.
Adieu is never explicit in its depiction of childhood. Instead, it's a document of vulnerability. "I was in a mental health crisis, my dog had died, my partner had left," Lynn says of the circumstances around the album. "Luckily, I had the wherewithal to sort of shut my life down and stay in a safe room and scream and cry and talk into my phone." He emerged from that safe place with pieces of songs—one about his abusive spiritual background ("Oh Lucifer") and one "about leaving your body, not to go to heaven, but just to be done" ("Let's Go Home"). One especially catchy sing-along ("The Most Wrong in the Whole World") samples those depressed musings straight from his phone.
Even after crisis, reconciliation and relapse, Lynn says he's ready to embrace whatever comes next after his two decades in Portland. "I feel useful here," he says.
SEE IT: Logan Lynn plays KINK-FM's Skype Live Studio, 1210 SW 6th Ave., on Friday, Sept. 30. 5 pm. Free with RSVP at skypelivestudio.com. All ages.