As humankind begins a new trip around the sun, the remnants and effects of 2020 are still fresh wounds for many. An artist who herself had to pivot and make decisions to keep her family safe in the midst of a pandemic, Lora Kelley has penned a new song that grapples with loss amidst uncertainty and continuing forward into the unknown – something most people experienced in some way or another during 2020. “Waking Dream”, premiering on American Songwriter as an “ethereal single [that] reckons with the unknown and then determines to move on in softly passionate harmonies,” was released on all major platforms. Indeed, “Waking Dream” is a testament to the pandemic’s emotional impact on society and the precariousness of living life in a pandemic. “As the pandemic began to gain momentum, and it became clear that there was an indefinite nature to it swirling around us, my husband (a wedding photographer) and I decided the most conservative approach to outlasting the pandemic’s emotional and economic impact was to sell our house and to try and pivot swiftly to a job that had a more essential nature to it,” says Kelley of the moment behind the song. “One morning, after sleeping at my mother’s house, I woke up confused as to where I was. For a minute, I was back in time waking up in our old house, the morning light pouring sideways through the blinds. It felt like an alternate timeline and that many pre-pandemic memories only exist in that in-between space of waking and sleeping.”
Having just celebrated an 11th wedding anniversary and the birth of their third child, Lora and her husband were optimistic for 2020… a feeling common to most at the beginning of last year. “As the pandemic up-ended our livelihood and our home, it became clear that nothing would ever return to the way it was. There was no going back, and the only way to make it through was to offer each other the opportunity to press on,” says Lora. The lyric “take my hand, we can’t go back to where we were” refers to just that – pressing on in the midst of uncertainty, leaning into the unknown, and holding loved ones just a little bit tighter. As listeners collectively enter 2021 knowing life won’t return to what used to be normal, listeners can take comfort in Lora’s song and the reminder that they are not alone… we are all taking each other’s hand and pressing into what is to come in 2021.
“Waking Dream” is a single from Kelley’s upcoming album Domystique, releasing in the Spring. Kelley herself has been acclaimed by top music-tastemakers including No Depression, The Boot, Elmore Magazine, Great American Song, and others. Described as “polished pop Americana with a darker lyrical edge” by Americana UK and praised for her “distinctive voice” by No Depression, Lora Kelley finds a way to step between the time of ingenue and the silvery-haired later years of womanhood, pressing into the gentle magic of middle-life. Like other songs on this record, “Waking Dream” pulls from Kelley’s own experiences and knits together what it felt like for her to feel the threads of connectivity to what used to be but isn’t (and won’t be) anymore.