First Impressions: Garden Songs by Lydia Luce

It’s simultaneously lush, light, dark and stark, a set of songs that seemingly bends and extends this thing we call time. Lydia Luce’s folk-flavored Garden Songs EP, released a few weeks ago, may only be 15 minutes in length, but it possesses the weight of an album-long suite. (For those not up on their Lydia lore, I filled in some blanks a few months back. Click here for that.) Yet a part of me does half-expect to have to flip the record to its second side when the last song fades to silence. So there’s that.

It opens with “Matter of Time,” which finds her navigating the conundrum of life during the seismic climate change we find ourselves in. “Who’s going to grow food for the masses, “ she muses, “when we’re dry as dust and racing to the beat of a clock?” But life unfurls as it always has and will to an extent, especially for the young: “The children arranged in an orange sea/I caught them all dancing, singing for the lilies…”

Her lyrics are poetic and whimsical, with detailed strokes often accenting broad and emotive dabs. “Vow,” about her impending nuptials, is such an example. “Air Castle,” which was inspired by letters her great-grandparents exchanged, is a tad more grounded than its title lets on: “Some days I lose faith/Feels like I’m running in concrete/A little forward, a little back/I try to be present and follow my own path.”

“Cosmic Flower,” as I noted in my previous piece, “feels as expansive and involving as an album side. It has a timeless feel.” The closing track, “Yellow Dawn,” possesses a similar vibe, echoing (to my ears, at least) the Gordon Lightfoot-penned “Early Mornin’ Rain.” The strings that percolate throughout the song (and album) are spot-on, forever buttressing the melody while never overwhelming it. It’s the perfect end to a near-perfect EP. The only thing that would or could have made it better? If it was double the songs and double the length.

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