On August 23, acclaimed Maryland-based roots-folk artist Juliet Lloyd released her latest single, “Letters.”
The poignant, skillfully crafted track, which may be Lloyd’s most personal yet, explores the change that inevitably comes with time through the metaphor of a mother’s distinctive handwriting.
“The inspiration behind ‘Letters’ was a thank you note that I got in the mail from my mom earlier this year,” Lloyd says. “I noticed that her handwriting—always so recognizable for its bold, sweeping style—looks different now. It got me thinking about what’s constant in our lives, and what changes as we age, and how we reconcile the two.”
“Steady hand that put the dinner on the table / At six o’clock every single day / Steady hand that raised two daughters / Five minutes from the house where she was raised,” Lloyd sings in the first verse.
“You always told me you can tell a lot about a person by the way they sign their name,” she continues in the chorus, setting the audiences up for the “emotional gut punch,” “But I don’t recognize yours anymore.”
The juxtaposition of the mother’s “steady hand” and her altered penmanship effectively captures the manifestation of aging similar to the way in which a loved one looks different when you see them after extended time apart. Each new line that adorns the forehead and every degree of increased hollowness under the eyes tells a story about a life lived and reminds us of our own impermanence.
Thematically, “Letters” serves as a lovely tribute to the strength of women who often shoulder the brunt of the load within and outside of the home, “always the model of grace.”
“Letters” showcases Juliet Lloyd’s powerful, affecting vocals that have earned the Berklee alumna national recognition in multiple songwriter contests and festivals, including top honors in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Award in 2022. The track produced by Dave Mallen at Innovation Station Music in Annandale, Virginia features Steve Quintilian on guitar, Andy Hamburger on drums, and Mallen on bass and organ.
Sonically, the instrumentation of “Letters” takes listeners on a journey in alignment with Lloyd’s meditative vocal narrative. The acoustic guitar embodies intimate moments of contemplation while soaring organ and electric guitar represent the oscillating highs and lows of our respective chapters.
In life, one thing we can count on is the certainty of change, and our ability to navigate through these seasons informs our experience. For Lloyd, songwriting provides a constructive lens through which to process change.
“It’s been like building a muscle over the past year — try to write something every day (or nearly every day), and it puts you more in that constant mindset of listening and observing details and looking for things to write about,” says Lloyd.
“For me, a lot of inspiration has come from observing or experiencing personal change,” she adds. “I think where my younger self would have glossed over certain things and tried to write songs that sounded like a certain style or what I thought a song should be, now, I’m much more compelled to draw from actual things happening to me, good or bad.”
“And I know it’s a total cliché, but I’ve definitely seen it in my own recent songs — the more personal a song is to me, the ‘smaller’ it is, the more universally it seems to resonate with others.”
As evidenced beautifully by “Letters,” we could not agree more.
Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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