This series showcases local and regional musicians in a relaxed and intimate setting. The lobby is transformed into a 70-seat showcase lounge.
About the Artist
The lushness of the orchestration of Lydia Luce's Garden Songs EP is striking on first listen,
and fans may hear it as a return to her musical roots. The mystery of why starts to unravel when
she explains that she wrote it at an artist retreat on Orcas Island, a tiny destination of some 57
square miles off the coast of Washington state known for vistas of water, forest, rocks, beaches,
and blue skies. It was the first writing Luce had done since her 2021 album, Dark River.
"It was an opportunity to connect with myself without any pressure because I wasn't writing for a
project," Luce explains. "I used the time to reconnect to writing." She found inspiration in the
words of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, using exercises from his book, How to Write One Song, as a
jumping-off point. And, as is frequently the case for Luce, being in nature helped stimulate her
creative mind. Writing in such a picturesque setting helped her focus her attention on the world
around her—quite literally in the case of the EP's first song, "Matter of Time."
The summer before Luce landed on Orcas Island, the northwest suffered two brutal heat waves,
and the extreme weather killed dozens. It got Luce thinking about the cognitive dissonance of
wanting to be present in this remarkable place while grappling with how the same area was
deadly to so many during a bout of extreme weather. For a woman who grew up by the ocean,
the mountainous water vistas reminded her of her smallness. It also helped to shrink her
anxieties and ego down to a manageable enough size to not get in the way of simply writing a
Luce turned to her impending wedding for "Vow," which is the tale of the next step in a
relationship that had been turbulent. The quiet confidence of commitment is captured in her
measured singing, while the spectacular feelings of being in love come through in the music
with strings that swell into a cinematic instrumental. The song lands on a moment of looking
forward, Luce explains, to "what we've built together and all of our hard work in our relationship
and also getting to be present and enjoy where we're at."
Another love is at the heart of "Air Castle"—that of Luce's great grandparents. Her father shared
a book of their love letters, written between 1909 and 1920, while he was in California and she
was in Georgia. The letters begin when they are friends, and the encouraging letters they wrote
each other eventually ended in love and a successful shared career with a company they co-
created. The song captures how important it can be to feel like someone is in your corner,
seeing the best of you and rooting for your triumph.
"Cosmic Flower" offers a series of similes, drawing a parallel between nature and love. It folds
Luce's passion and inspiration for the vastness of nature with those same feelings in her
relationship. Written in a period of separation, Luce penned it on the side of a cliff—more literal
than metaphorical. "It's a song about longing and missing someone. After Covid, everybody
knows what that feels like," Luce says.
The EP ends with a song about persistence. "Yellow Dawn" is a letter to herself that serves as a
reminder to keep writing, creating, and believing. Most importantly, to keep going. Persistence in
love and living is a theme threaded throughout Garden Songs. Sometimes it emerges as a love
story, sometimes a recognition of the world around us. The idea that we'll carry on and keep
going as we let hope and love guide us, standing in our grace and embracing beauty and art
while facing down an uncertain future is a choice that propels Luce. That feeling propelled the
writing and creation of Garden Songs.
In addition to her solo work, Luce works with Lockeland Strings. This community arts
organization showcases local artists with a string quintet and performances of new
contemporary classical pieces from local composers. They've been joined by Kacey Musgraves
and Lucie Silvas, among others, and partners with nonprofits, including the ACLU of
Tennessee, Girls Write Nashville and The Little Pantry That Could. She also plays viola as a