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Lonna Kelley Brings Back Two Captivating Tunes for a New Single Release

Lonna Kelley's new single has two songs released by the local favorite.
Lonna Kelley's new single has two songs released by the local favorite. Courtesy of Lonna Kelley

click to enlarge Lonna Kelley's new single has two songs released by the local favorite. - COURTESY OF LONNA KELLEY
Lonna Kelley's new single has two songs released by the local favorite.
Courtesy of Lonna Kelley

Lonna Kelley’s voice is a sharp-edged magnet, drenched in honey.

Plenty of people are already familiar with its ability to captivate from the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s work in bands from Giant Sand to Cherie Cherie.

And now you can take it home with you again.

Moone Records — a local label — is taking preorders for a seven-inch vinyl release dropping on May 7 that will help you get stuck in its grip. Once you get lost in that dreamy soundscape, good luck trying to shake yourself loose. Chances are, though, you won’t be clamoring for freedom.

The two tunes, “Will I See You” and “Time Waits for No One,” were recorded for Kelley’s revered 2015 EP, Take Me Home Spiderman, but didn't make it onto that six-song release.

When Caleb Dailey – who runs Moone alongside his brother, Micah — was discussing a new release with Kelley, he asked if there happened to be any songs left over from that session and it inspired her to “dust off those reels.”

Deep-diving into the past can be an emotionally layered event, and that surely was the case for Kelley when it came time to pop the lid off these previously recorded songs. The Spiderman tracks were recorded at home on a Tascam 38, in the wake of losing her then-partner (and child’s father) Mark Erickson to suicide in 2012.

Between that tragedy and now, Kelley has been a beacon of strength, moving forward productively, from managing mom duties to pursuing musical projects that she’s passionate about, and finding love again with another area-based musician, Jay Hufman.

So, it’s no wonder when she says revisiting these tunes was “intense.”

“It was definitely strange to hear it again,” Kelley says. “At the time, these songs I didn’t include just didn’t feel complete.”

Uncovering the tracks now for the Moone record, her perspective is different. “Hearing these again, I thought a lot about the magic behind the recording, especially David Nichols, who recorded it,” she says, adding that “he really orchestrated the whole record.”

Of these two newly released songs, “Will I See You,” Kelley says, “is the track that sparked the record.” Its starkness alone is enough to haunt your fucking socks off.

Its opening is the musical version of a horror movie clip: An airy quietness is offset by touches of lightly chaotic noise, enough to make your imagination start attempting to fill in blanks, wondering what is behind the next corner.

You’re already committed to finding out what’s next when Kelley’s vocals come in and waste no time breaking your heart. Her ethereal and whispery questions, “Will I see you? / Will I see you again? / Are you out there walking down some street? / Are you free?” are so simultaneously beautiful and sad, it’s immobilizing.

The seven-inch was mixed and mastered by John Dieterich of Deerhoof, who Kelley says “added noise and ambiance.” Dieterich, whose experimental guitar work is legendary, was a terrific production choice. In this song, the sonic noise he dropped into the poignant track only adds to its depth rather than being a distracting or invading force.

“Time Waits for No One” has a bit of a gentler feel, though it is no less hypnotic than the other. In this case, it’s Kelley’s sweet vocals, soaked in world-weary wisdom, that keep you mesmerized. It takes an interesting dip into near-silence towards its end that teases an ending before coming back to grab your hand and tour you down more of its trance-y path.

In addition to the upcoming release, Kelley has also been working on a collaborative project with musician Ryan Breen, who handled several duties on Take Me Home Spiderman, including bass, drum machine, and mixing and mastering. Fans should expect it to sound a little different and Kelley mischievously and mysteriously nods to its “Grammy potential.”

Whatever comes next, she’s letting it happen organically. “I just want to make music that I like that is a true representation of me.

“And to be happy.”
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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young