JULIET LLOYD, HIGH ROAD

“You can stop a fire from burning / Put out a cigarette / You can pour the whiskey down the drain / But it’s the taste you won’t forget,” expert D.C. songwriter Juliet Lloyd starts off her new EP, High Road, in an impressively high range. It’s apropos, for an artist coming back to writing and performing, after an almost ten year hiatus. You don’t forget your first love. And though her career seemed to be just taking off when she called it quits, she’s coming back stronger than before. 

It is five songs, she says that she felt supercharged to record, coming out of the pandemic, partly to satisfy her faithful fans at the over 150 shows she played in the area, and partly because she finally felt like she had something to say again. And what she has to say is indelibly crafted and sophisticated stuff. “Starting Something” is a fitting opener that anyone starting a relationship should hear. “I can’t unfall in love with you / Don’t think that for a minute / So don’t be starting something / You can’t finish.” The satisfying sweetness of the music surely makes up for the serious medicine that the song tries to make you swallow.

Her next song, in fact, “High Road,” is a song that should be required listening for any budding musician, a lesson that’s hard but important to hear. “Of all the words I could’ve written / Pages full of ammunition / Still I chose to hold my tongue instead.” “I took the high road / So why is it that I feel so low?” Being a grown up doesn’t always reward us with the feels, and Lloyd never says that the high road is the best road to take. But it’s good to remember, as good as it feels to drag someone in a song (“I could sing, I could sing / But every day I choose to hold it in”), there are real world consequences.

To perhaps provide her listeners with a bit of grace, her next song is a bit of a dig at her ex, “Over You.” “They say you moved on / And she looks a lot like me / Except she’s a blond / Oh and I’m sure that she’s so sweet.” Still it is a touching song about how friendship can come after love, and Lloyd remains dignified, even in her pain. With her years away from music probably came many years of character growth as well, which gives even more credence to her firm decision to start where she left off. 

She shows more country leanings in this record than her last, something that came as a result of people requesting country songs at her live shows. One of her hesitations in releasing new songs was being pigeon-holed as a country singer, but the influence is slight and she remains firmly rooted in the singer-songwriter category, something I personally prefer as a listener. 

She’s got real chops, as a singer, as a song writer, and with so many shows under her belt, probably as a performer as well. Any of these songs could easily find themselves on the radio. The bitter-sweet, perfectly captured love song, “Lie With Me,” the empathetic and empowered title track, “High Road,” the heart-wise and honestly longing, “Start Something.” It will be a wonder to see where she goes from here, with such a strong offering of songs. Will this album garner the same praise as her 2007, Leave The Light On? I think there’s a good chance. There’s still time. 

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