The stories behind this year’s Louisville Is For Lovers compilation

Here’s a universal truth and a massive understatement: Love is complicated. It’s universal, but how it’s perceived, felt, described and contextualized is a wide-ranging and tricky thing. Louisville Is For Lovers, an annual compilation from local musicians, is once again exploring all of those variables — and all of the joy and sorrow that comes with it. This year’s edition, subtitled American Promenade, features Your Band (members of Soft Self Portraits and Cereal Glyphs), Sam Filiatreau & Maggie Halfman, Fiji Waters and Monkey Boy (who was on the very first Valentine’s comp back in 2001), with the proceeds going to StudioWorks program, a creative space for artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The album will be released Friday, Feb. 1, with an artists’ showcase Friday, Feb. 15 at StudioWorks. We caught up with some of the musicians to get the stories behind the songs.

Brother Wolves — ‘Count ‘em All’
“This song is about the wonders of childhood and keeping them alive as you grow older. As you age, sometimes those dreams and aspirations you had as a child get lost due to the circumstances of life — experiencing sorrow, trauma, loss, depression, addiction or other hardships and finding the strength and courage to push forward in a positive manner. This song focuses on overcoming these obstacles and being thankful for the experiences that have shaped you — good or bad. It’s about living in the moment, keeping the passion alive, pursuing your dreams, never giving up and never being content with just being. Loving yourself isn’t always easy, but if you focus on the positives, you might just find a little peace of mind.” —Wilfred E. Sieg III

Your Band — ‘Your Song’
“‘Your Song’ started as a little clip of a vocal harmony exercise I experimented with back in 2016 upon first getting a loop pedal and geeking out about it. A few years later, that clip resurfaced, and I decided to expand on it. The lyrical content in the song came from a recurring dream I had as a kid. The dream was that someone would tie their sheets together into a rope, knock on my bedroom window, toss them in, and climb up, like something you’d see in a romantic comedy or coming-of-age movie. It’s about getting lost in that romantic delusion and holding onto it until it’s gone.” — Cody Johnson

Cubic Centimetre — ‘Cavebug’
“The song was kind of a fluke. I grapple with insomnia constantly. This summer I’d gone out, made it home at a decent hour and crawled into bed hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep. As is usually the case, sleep was not on the menu for me that night. After staring at the ceiling for what felt like days, I jumped out of bed, grabbed my guitar and fired up my amp. I’d just borrowed a delay pedal from a friend and figured I’d burn up some time experimenting with it.  After finding a setting on that pedal that sounded appropriately bananas, the song just sort of came from thin air. The name “Cavebug” is a sly nod to a dear friend who has been pushing me to play music again.”—Chad Castetter

Electric Choir — ‘Heroin Gracelessness’
“I deconstructed the basic melody to ‘Amazing Grace’ to make it lowsome and fractured and wrote lyrics addressing one of the most emergent and horrific epidemics Kentucky is facing and the heartbreak of families torn apart by it. I was able to stay at a friend’s cabin in the Kentucky Appalachians to record the song in late winter just as the coyote pups started venturing out and down the mountain and loved how their howling around the cabin made the song even more isolated and desperate.” —John King

Monkey Boy — ‘Feels of the Night’
“‘Feels of the Night’ was inspired by the first time I met my love of 25 years. The feeling of being adrift, lost in the world/universe and then finding the one you are meant to be with. Having an obsession with outer space and vintage robots, it was only natural for me to see the parallels of my life and that of a hapless astronaut floating in orbit and then finding life/love on another planet. —Scott Scarboro

The Fervor with Martin O’Toole — ‘Let the Sun Shine In’
“This is an older song, written around 1999, that was dusted-off and completed for this year’s comp. I based it on a schoolyard rhyme, and set it in a minor key to add a sense of despair to the lyrics. Though the lyrics focus on cheating, they are not intended to be about sexual infidelity. Rather they are meant to reference the little compromises we all make each day to get by in a system rife with greed and selfishness.” — Ben Felker

Justin North — ‘Death and Love in Space’
“This is a silly song. I simply intended to make a science fiction love story set to Johnny Marr-inspired guitars. It’s not that love isn’t a serious thing, but sometimes love is overanalyzed — especially by me! Many artistic endeavors in this world cover the heavy, emotional, spiritual, physical natures of love — this song is not one of them. My hope was it would be fun to listen to. —Justin North

Pardieu — ‘Polly Drives Away’
“‘Please don’t ever let me know, it’s my fault I can’t show love’ is one of the main lines which epitomizes the rawness and vulnerability of the lyrics. We enjoy candid expressions that cut to the core of life’s challenges, on top of a soundscape that — on its own — is hopeful.” —Brian Walter

FAT LAVA — ‘Hold to Stay’
“‘Hold to Stay’ is about youth and the idea that youthful hearts are the nexus of love. I wrote it during a tough time in my life when memories of childhood were my sanctuary. It was one of the first songs that FAT LAVA played as a band and everyone had an excellent part. David Toy’s piano sets the mood as he adds flourishes without overshadowing the vocals. Patrick Gossman’s bass holds a line then walks around as Jeff Gard taps a marching snare. Adam Huffer put aside his saxophone to add tasteful keys and percussion. I wanted to capture a vocal tone that sounded eternally young, or puer aeternus, to reflect the theme. This song will always make me think of that feeling you get in someone’s loving embrace when you wish time would stop so you could ‘Hold to Stay’.” —Scott Cambron