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Review: Heather Aubrey Lloyd, Samples

I hope the folks who publish those little booklets of colors don't get mad at us.

 

Heather Aubrey Lloyd
Samples
Self-released (2010)

Heather Aubrey Lloyd is a songwriter with something to say.  The collection on Samples, her first solo record, covers the wide range of supporting emotions that accompany being human—from the depths of depression and pain to the exuberant. Lloyd is best known regionally as one half of the front vocals and contributing songwriter with Baltimore-based band ilyAIMY (“I love you and I miss you”), a role she shares with Rob Hinkal. All of the songs on Samples are from Heather’s own pen, and the only instrumentation on much of the album is her own parlor-style guitar playing. In this sparsely produced setting, her voice, which is elegantly controlled with a slight smokiness and equally at home in folk and jazz, dominanates and immediately grabs your attention. Her voice is so compelling that it might take a while before you become conscious of just how strong the songs are lyrically. It gives the album the special charm of an intimate presentation, as if she is performing just for the listener.

The title of the disc is also the name of one of the tracks, a song that chronicles a wounded relationship through the selection of the paint color for the living room. There is an obligatory murder-for-love ballad, albeit one with a very different and somewhat occult twist, “Silent Little Bells.”  But at the end, about the time you are ready to reach for the handkerchief, she comes up with the dancing-in-the-streets exuberance of “The Winter Bride,” performed solo on the ukelele, a song that’s like the sun from behind a cloud. Although it is a lamentation of sorts, it has a sarcastic, laughing-in-the-devil’s-face tone that celebrates the resilience of human nature, and so you figuratively pocket the hankey and start dancing along.

—H. Stephen Patton (Baltimore, MD)

[Editorial note: This album isn’t so easy to find. One way to get it is by catching ilyAIMY at a show, which is a good idea if you’re in the northeastern U.S. or midwestish. The other way is to go to their donations page, donate $15, and tell them you want a copy of Samples.]

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