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Luce clearly likes to be busy with musical projects, but also dedicates her free time to Lockeland Strings, a community arts organization in Nashville that showcases local artists with a string quintet and performances of new contemporary classical pieces from local composers (Photo provided by IVPR).

Artist Spotlight: Lydia Luce is a magical, powerful, underrated force

Lydia Luce sounds like an ordinary name until one looks at her impressive musical catalog as a Nashville-based artist. From viola and violin work for artists such as Eminem and Dolly Parton to accompanying Kasey Musgraves on stage, Luce is a name that deserves more recognition than it gets.

Luce got her start in 2015, releasing an EP called The Tides. Integrating her experience as a violinist with her voice was a good starting point for the artist, but it was still a period of growth.

Three years later, the musician was back with Azalea, an 11-track album that dug much deeper in comparison to her previous work. From songs of betrayal and disloyalty such as "Tangerine" to songs like "Sausalito" that wish to rekindle an old love affair, Luce experimented with new stories and pulled from experiences with heartbreak, lust and angst to create a haunting first debut project.

Along with these projects came instrumental covers of certain hits from Azalea such as "Helen" and "My Heart in Mind," an evident reminder that Luce wasn't keen on giving up her orchestra-backed sound anytime soon.

Jump to 2020, a year of uncertainty for many artists forced to stay in lockdown, and Luce had already released two more EPs, Occasionally and Maybe in Time. Yet, as the year dragged on, she had more up her sleeve. The singer dropped All the Time and Tangled Love, in total comprising only four songs, but acted as the precursor to what would be her second album.

Dark River thus followed, with a fresh perspective from Luce, reflecting on her own faults and her journey to finding self-worth and confidence. The song itself, "Dark River," tells how Luce refused to let a negative person in their life belittle them, learning that it's better to distance oneself from bad energy than entertain it. 

Other tracks, such as "Stones" and "Just the Same" were Luce admitting to her faults while yearning to love someone that seems out of reach.

Even though it's only been over a year since Dark River came out, Luce recently dropped a new EP on June 24 called Garden Songs, consisting of five new tracks from the artist. Written during an artist retreat on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state, the singer took this time to recenter.

"It was an opportunity to connect with myself without any pressure because I wasn't writing for a project," Luce said. "I used the time to reconnect to writing." She was also inspired by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and his book, How to Write One Song. Nature also played a huge role in sparking creativity in her sound, evident in the first song on the EP, "Matter of Time." 

Other songs on the EP pull from Luce's personal life as well. As her wedding was growing closer, Luce wrote "Vow" about being fully in love, and looking forward to what's to come from a new marriage. "Air Castle" tells the love story of the singer's grandparents after Luce uncovered their love letters written between 1909 and 1920. 

Next comes "Cosmic Flower," revealing the parallels between Luce's passion for nature and the passion she feels towards her current partner, saying how she was desperate for both during a year of lockdown. The final track, "Yellow Dawn," acts as a purposeful reminder to Luce herself, begging her to keep creating, writing and performing as a musician. 

Luce clearly likes to be busy with musical projects but also dedicates her free time to Lockeland Strings, a community arts organization in Nashville that showcases local artists with a string quintet and performances of new contemporary classical pieces from local composers. Lockeland Strings also partners with nonprofits such as the ACLU of Tennessee, Girls Write Nashville and The Little Pantry That Could. 

From creating to volunteering, Luce is balancing tour life as well. The singer is on tour this summer until July 29, ending in her home state at Nashville's Third Man Records Blue Room. 

Lydia Luce is a light in a time when darkness seems to be unfolding rapidly. She creates music that is not only beautiful but an escape from the chaotic realities music listeners face. With careful reflection and a clear passion for making music that resonates, Luce is a magical force that will continue to put listeners in a dream they won't want to wake up from.


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