The Stories Behind Louisville Is For Lovers 2020: Local Compilation Explores The Complexity Of Love

Love is a many-sided dice that’s rolled over and over throughout life, turning up a wide spectrum of emotions and situations — the good, the bad, the complicated, the simple and everything in-between. That’s always captured well in the Louisville is for Lovers compilation, an annual album from local musicians that explores the complexity of love. This year’s compilation, which is subtitled Dreaming In Love City, will be released on Feb. 4. There will also be a release show at Craft Gallery on Friday, Feb. 7. In the meantime, we asked several of the musicians involved to breakdown their songs.

Grey August Noise — ‘Rock Candy’
“‘Rock Candy’ is about the end of a relationship and trying to figure out how to move forward. The song is meant to be innocent and oblivious, like a high school romance, because that’s what it is. We’re both 15, and writing songs is just how we cope with the world around us. We wrote this song about a crush, but it also represents a transition period in life. This song is for anyone who is stuck.” —Iris Gillespie and Alix Lay 

Bon Air — ‘Hey Let’s Get Away’
“‘Hey Let’s Get Away’ was written about road trips I took with a special someone, some of which were spur of the moment. The feel of escape was exhilarating. Watching the sunset over the Painted Desert, slow dancing under the stars to a dance band in New Orleans, Beale Street, all those things happened. Some songs I just write in my head driving in the car, and this is one of those.” —Sam Scholten 

Daphne Luster — ‘Touch my Soul’
“‘Touch my Soul’ is about lovers that share unique synergy experienced through deep sensual attraction, yet share a fleeting, romantic connection. Both of them have been heartbroken and find refuge in being free and open with one another. The lovers want to trust in one another, but part so that neither ever disappoint the other. ‘Touch my Soul’ is about being positively changed by encountering love and letting it go.” —Daphne Luster 

Drift City — ‘Make Believe’
“The song, in not so many words, is about various permutations in which love can take form. The loss of a great love could transform into a different shape of the same one. Then, there’s the fleeting connections of people you meet and then are gone. Those to me, represent not only what we might love about another but reflect back to ourselves.” —Jason Hasch 

Twin Limb — ‘Animal’
“‘Animal’ addresses love and timing, processing the loss of intimacy and how surreal the process of ending a relationship can be sometimes, going from being as close to someone as we possibly can physically and emotionally to having almost no connection at all.” —Lacey Guthrie 

Tender Mercy — ‘Again’
“This song deals with the unhealthy and unfortunate side of love. The type of love where people hurt each other mentally/emotionally/physically, but keep coming back together. I’m really not sure that’s love at all, but that’s what inspired this song. It originally had a second verse but I felt like the song was already too long. So I used the second verse as its own song and called it ‘Once Again.’” —Mark Kramer

Tamara Dearing — ‘Field Of Blue’
“I intended to write something spunky, but what came out was a simple, lovely goodbye song and it came so easy that I knew it was important. Thematically, the song is an exploration of how complicated love can be — how you can love someone deeply, but need to leave them to be yourself.” —Tamara Dearing

Rebecca Williams — ‘Carlos’
“Having never been one for writing sentimental love songs, I decided to challenge myself to write one a week before the Louisville Is For Lovers submission deadline. I had gone through a breakup over the summer and my ex and I were attempting to reconnect at the time, so I was in the perfect mindset to write an ode to a love that was not quite lost. The most impactful element of this song, however, was the recording process. My very first tourmate joined me in the studio, so this is more of a tribute to the beginning of my most profound love: touring.” —Rebecca Williams

Adventure (with The Cut Family Foundation) — ‘Lookin’ 4 Love’
“The lyrics for this number are simply about the luck of finding true love and how small events can prevent such a thing from happening. Likewise, the music in the song comes from a bit of luck, too. Adventure occasionally wanders down to the Cut Family Foundation compound for some extended jams. Walking out with smiles on our faces, guitars and synths in our ears and a two hour-long MP3 of the evening, luck would have it that within that sound file were the chords for this very song. A recording session later, plus some synths from Cut Family Foundation, and Adventure had another Louisville Is For Lovers submission.” — Jordan Forst

Planetary Overdrive — ‘Angel of the Strip’
“I wanted to come up with a lost-love narrative of a flame from days gone, but that still lives on in bits and pieces deep in half-forgotten memories. People can just vanish from your life, leaving nary a trace behind. It was so long ago — faded memories sometimes come back to us in dreams. ‘I don’t think that I’ve changed, but I’ll never be the same’ is my favorite line in the song. It’s hard to see how you’ve grown without taking a step back and trying to see yourself through the eyes of another.”—Dan Sturdevant 

Pardieu  — ‘She Says’
“This song describes the moments of anxiety that only love can bring. It’s written for any hopeless lover that never stops believing in a better tomorrow.” —Brian Walter 

Roman Concrete — ‘Oh Brother’
“‘Oh Brother’ is about offering forgiveness and understanding in the face of abandonment and rejection. We’ve wrapped that subject matter into a jangly two-and-a-half-minute snack for your enjoyment. Best wishes that you feel like a snack on Valentine’s Day, as well, and may you be a beacon of light and love to those around you.” —Mike Snowden 

David Wright — ‘The Love Process’
“I wrote this one close to 17 years ago with the intention of recording and submitting it to Louisville is for Lovers number 3 or 4. For whatever reason, I could never get a satisfactory version of it recorded back then. Probably one of the sappiest songs I’ve written. Performed and recorded by myself in my humble Germantown bedroom.” —David Wright 

The Thornbacks — ‘Dazed’
“Have you ever felt confused after a breakup, even if you wanted it? This song is about dancing through the daze. ‘I thought we’d be high forever’ is echoed in each verse, accompanied by lyrics about lofty hopes and rose-colored glasses. The chorus of the song is instrumental, and its intention is to inspire the listener to pick up their hula hoop and groove.” —Jordan Sangmeister

Charity Radcliffe — ‘Runner By Nature’
“The lyrics to ‘Runner By Nature’ were inspired by the Robert Frost poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ which suggests nothing — especially that which is new and beautiful — lasts forever. The music is meant to invoke the same feelings of contemplative introspection we experience when love either begins or ends, implying that love is a natural gift, and, like most things in nature, changes with time.” —Charity Radcliffe  

Jr. Detective — ‘Sweet Nothings’
“I like to find the sweet spot between positive and negative aspects of life, and in ‘Sweet Nothings,’ I focused on the space between words that are said and words that are meant in relationships. I was writing about a relationship in which the two characters simply didn’t fit together as people, but still had some things left to hold onto once the relationship was finished. I think of the Humphrey Bogart line — ‘We’ll always have Paris’ — from ‘Casablanca’ and how loaded that simple sentence can be.’ —John Dobson

Jeremy Johnson — ‘Happy Anniversary’
“I’ve been in Louisville bands for years now. I’ve always thought this was the coolest compilation, and I’ve submitted a few times but never gotten in. I always sent the wrong stuff — cool songs, unconventional love songs, whatever. None of it was for the right reasons. This year I wrote a song for a woman I love, and it made it. I’m so happy to finally have a song that’s truly speaking from my heart and that this is the song that finally made it in. —Jeremy Johnson 

The Excuses — ‘Dream Date (With Virginia)’
“Sometimes in those lonesome late night hours it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and get all infatuated with randos from the internet. Next thing you know, you’re raising a barn and getting married, but all in your head. In the real world, you’re still just watching reruns of ‘Newhart.’ At the end of the night, though, it’s just a song the drummer sings, so how much can you really expect?”—Nathan Sturdevant 

Electric Choir  — ‘I’ll Overcome Someday’
“After 15 years of releasing music under the name Gallery Singers, I decided to indulge my minor obsession with the first American popular music genre, shape note singing, under the name Electric Choir. After 250 years or so, America’s tastes might have moved on, but the sincerity of these early works are still relatable, and so I tried my hand on ‘I’ll Overcome Someday.’ I actually didn’t mean to sing all the parts myself, but after playing the demo to about half-a-dozen musical friends that all declined to join me, I asked Anne Gauthier to help me layer the recording. I don’t really blame my friends. I don’t claim to be a great singer, or even a good one, more of a music fanatic that had an idea to continue this early American tradition.” —John King 

Yellow Cellophane — ‘Morning Song’
“I wrote this song about my partner, Jason. He’s the whole inspiration for me starting Yellow Cellophane. He’s been the biggest influence in my life and has pushed me to do so many things I never thought I could do. When I started Yellow Cellophane, it was during a period where we were broken up. He sparked ‘Warm Bodies,’ and ‘Freckles,’ as well as this song. We are now back together, hoping to spend the foreseeable future together, so this song is kind of an ode to him. It’s how I feel waking up with him every morning. Something so simple as waking up, has become something I look forward to now.” —Hannah Sexton

Cock Off Wego — ‘Touch Me Now’
“Remember teen angst? You know, that moment when you liked someone and you thought they might like you, too, but you weren’t sure and if you could just touch them, just touch them one time, you might get your answer. Or, you know, literally explode. But you were so besotted you didn’t care if you exploded, you just had to touch them or you would definitely — definitely — die? Yeah. That’s pretty much this song in a nutshell.” —Regan Wann

Hawks — ‘Nothing To Do With Love’
“We don’t really write love songs, which is a challenge right out of the gate. We write songs that tend to be a little darker, so we ended up with ‘Nothing To Do With Love,’ a sort of anti-love song. It’s about those relationships where one side is doing things that they swear up and down are totally kind and loving things to do. That what they’re saying and doing is helping the relationship, but in reality has nothing to do with love whatsoever. Maybe it’s motivated by selfishness or just the desire to keep up the appearance that everything is okay. But, at the end of the day, it’s the other person in the relationship who’s on the receiving end of their behavior and knows where it’s really coming from.” —Danny Cash 

The Last Origin — ‘Crocodile Smile’
“We had never tried to write a folk/bluegrass tune before, but I guess we were feeling a little homesick while on our summer tour in 2019, which is when we wrote the song. We were halfway between Santa Fe and Denver when we stopped at a music store for an emergency pair of drumsticks. We sat down and started jamming on an idea one of us had while driving and in about half an hour, we had ‘Crocodile Smile.’” —John Anderson

FAT LAVA — ‘Steam Train’
“In an automated, impersonal, digital age it’s important to remember the time when people and the world were moved and powered by sweat and steam. ‘Steam Train’ professes the love and longing for the days when we could see love in the whites of the eyes or steam rolling off a locomotive.” —Adam Huffer