Lora Kelley Embraces the Uncertainty of Her “Waking Dream”

When you look around at parts of our world today, gray areas of uncertainty seem slightly more present than before. Lora Kelley, a singer-songwriter and mother of three, grappled with this particular precariousness of life in a pandemic. The result was “Waking Dream.” The ethereal single reckons with the unknown and then determines to move on in softly passionate harmonies. 

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“So, obviously, we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Kelley tells American Songwriter, explaining her journey. “My husband is an event/wedding photographer, and all of sudden his work started moving and canceling. It was then really uncertain what we were going to do in terms of how to make a living.” 

The Kelleys decided to sell their home in hopes of building a new house, and move in with Lora’s mom while they rode out the pandemic. While in her family home, Kelley was struck with another moment of disorienting uncertainty. “I woke up one morning in my mom’s house, and for a second I was back in our old house had this very bizarre feeling. It took me a second to reorient myself,” Kelley explained. “And so that was the inspiration for the song… where I drew some of the imagery.” 

“Waking Dream” drums up poignant imagery of this feeling Kelley describes. In fact, one of her favorite verses from this song is one that reads, Unmarked boxes fill my mother’s house / What’s left of us outside of them we’re finding out

“In my mind, I just thought wow,” Kelley said. “Especially during the pandemic, I think it’s revealed a lot to me and my husband about who we are when we are disconnected from our stuff, from our identity, that was built in the last 15 years. But my sense is that’s been an experience that a lot of people had. A kind of, ‘Who am I in the midst of disruption? Who am I if my work is called into question? Who am I if I can’t do the things I always thought I was going to be doing? Who am I if I don’t go back to where I was?’ It’s a traumatic experience to be heading in one direction and have that be truncated and then be sent off into another timeline.”

Overall, however, Kelley isn’t too worried about this redirection. Kelley described the song as a release from expectations. “It has the sense of being lifted up off of the ground as if you’ve been tethered. That tether has just been cut and you’re hovering right above the ground,” Kelley clarified. 

She continued, “This is an invitation to draw together to say, ‘We don’t have to do this alone. Yes, we are not going to be able to go back to the way things were and maybe we don’t know where we’re going, but we can go together.’”

“Waking Dream” succeeds in its moments of recognition, and Kelley is simply charming to listen to. Her velvety vocals also convince you that this moment of in-between isn’t too bad. 

This single precedes Kelley’s upcoming album, Domystique, which will feature other stories of how Kelley relates to the world. Listen to the exclusive premiere of “Waking Dream” below.

Photo Credit: Eric Kelley

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