Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Premiere: Lucy Isabel

May 7, 2019

I love a good wide-open, rollicking, soaring folk-rock song. It’s why I loved early Dawes and why later Dawes is less interesting to me. It’s why the organ is one of my favorite instruments in a folk tune. It’s why I love Lucy Isabel‘s “How It Goes.” This song is a long series of high moments, pregnant pauses, and exultant refrains, led by Isabel’s powerful voice and underscored by a blazing organ. It’s the sort of song where you hope the final chorus is just everybody going for it at once, and lo, so it is.

(Photo credit: Andrea Morgan)

The structure of the song is a standard one, which in this case makes the song feel like a warm, comfy shirt. You kind of know what’s going to happen here as soon as that first chorus hits, but it’s the satisfying sort of knowing. This song gives you the map and delivers on that promise in a big, powerful blast of folk-rock glee.

As you might expect for something so triumphant-sounding, it’s a breakup song.

But it’s more than that, Lucy explains in this short Q&A:

What is the story behind this song? What prompted you to write it?
I first started writing “How It Goes” while on tour in the summer of 2018. I was playing a run of shows in the West, and I was surrounded by mountains for a pretty lengthy stretch of time. I grew up at the beach and, while I’ve been around mountains before, something about this trip was hitting me differently. I started thinking about how amazing it was to be surrounded by something so monumental. But I kept coming back to the feeling that I would never feel at home so far from the ocean. The chorus came from that thought process and the rest just sort of followed.

What do you hope this song’s message is to listeners who hear it?
I wrote the majority of the song pretty quickly, but I got hung up on the final verse for a little while. My husband would hear me playing what I had so far over and over, and one day he offered to try to help me finish it. He’s not a musician and I didn’t end up using any of his ideas, but it was actually helpful to me because he thought the song was meant to be a sad/breakup song just based on reading the lyrics. And that’s not what I meant for it at all. For me, it’s a triumph. It’s about standing by someone and doing your best to understand them. It’s about the hope that they’ll do the same for you.

Do you have a favorite lyric line from the song?
I think my favorite lyric from the song is the beginning of the final verse: “I wish for you patience. And I wish for you peace.” It may be partly because it took me so long to get that verse out, and it was such a relief when I finally did. But I think it also goes beyond that. When I think about the things that I want for the people I love, it’s that they’re able to live their lives peacefully. Happiness is great, but I think you’ll get a lot farther in life when you find a way to be okay with the things that are out of your control.

“How It Goes” drops May 10, while its full album Rambling Stranger arrives June 14. You can catch Lucy Isabel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify.

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Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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