Lily Meola Earns More Acclaim
From Luck Reunion Performance
Singer/Songwriter Just Released EP Daydream
Next Show Set For BeachLife Festival 2022
in Redondo Beach, CA on May 13
Sometimes it takes life’s surprising, and often painful, twists and turns to inspire great growth. That’s just what happened after soul-pop singer/songwriter Lily Meola lost her mother to cancer and a boyfriend to a barista. “The tough times in the past few years really helped teach me to write honestly and to be truly vulnerable. These new songs are the most raw and intimate I’ve ever done,” says the 27-year-old Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based artist of her new 5-song EP, Daydream, that was released earlier this month.
Meola showcased the songs in her sets at two renowned festivals and the critics took note. In September at Napa’s BottleRock Festival, the Mercury News named her as one of “five under-the-radar acts to catch” saying “Meola is an excellent singer-songwriter, who melds country, pop and jazz in her the music, and counts Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar and Jackson Browne among her many high-profile mentors.” Her performance enraptured the crowd who gave her a standing call for an unexpected encore.
In mid-March she took on Luck Reunion where the Austin Chronicle praised her “powerhouse, suave vocals,” Billboard proclaimed “Lily Meola’s voice floated high and bright, like the clouds she appliquéd on her blue denim jacket and jeans,” and The Spokesman-Review stated that “Lily Meola is a star on the rise. Keep an eye out for Meola, who is a clever and emotive singer-songwriter.”
The release of her title track, has also evoked passion from ZO Magazine who wrote, “As you’ll soon learn, listening to ‘Daydream’ by Lily Meola caused me to emotionally let loose. It’s one of those songs you selfishly wish was penned years ago so that it could’ve guided you towards a better path, but while I cannot turn back the hands of time – I can only hope it does find its way to this generation.”
“But even through the hard times, we can come out of it stronger and with a smile on our face. And that’s really important for other people to hear,” she told Rolling Stone, which chose the title track, “Daydream,” as a Pick of the Week, debuted her video for “Got Your Way” (her song about the aforementioned boyfriend and the barista), and described her sound as “somewhere in the intersection between dream pop and soulful folk” and compared her to “Lana Del Rey and Joni Mitchell, Mazzy Star and Amy Winehouse.” Meola adds, “We all go through hard days and it sucks. But, what a great life you’ll have if you’re living your daydreams.”
While Daydream isn’t technically the artist’s debut release, it is the one where she found her voice, her vision, and her writing prowess. Meola’s debut, 2016’s They Say, showed off her ability to put her bluesy stamp on any song, but she hadn’t yet nailed down her musical identity until now. “It’s a process of learning who you are as a person, as an artist, and as a songwriter, and what it is that I want to say,” she notes.
Daydream takes listeners on a journey through soulful balladry and emotive pop sprinkled with her wide range of influences from jazz and R&B to gospel and country. “I spent the last few years traveling between L.A. and Nashville, and six weeks in London, just writing and really figuring out who I was — as an artist and a person — and what I had to say and wanted to share. That’s how it all came about. It’s a mix of different worlds that are all part of me,” she recalls.
Rolling Stone calls the title track “a slice of soft-rock with a reassuring message (“gotta fall for a minute/before you can fly”), and of “Smallest Things,” which was produced by Christian “Leggy” Landon (Ed Sheeran, Ben Platt), they say it’s “both ethereal and full of triggering imagery (“gold chains, Old Spice, ain’t it sad/the smallest things always take me back”). On the lost-love song, “Got Your Way,” Meola becomes a sultry jazz chanteuse, using her most alluring voice to warn an ex’s new lover, “Just because I walked away doesn’t mean you get to have him.” Josh Grant (Shawn Mendes) helped turn the uplifting “Sunshine” into a gospel/R&B tune — an appropriate style for its message: “Stay close to the people who feel like sunshine.”
Since her auspicious stage debut at age 11 as Dulcinea on Man of La Mancha, Meola had the opportunity to learn from the best songwriters and musical legends. Some of her A-list collaborators include Jackson Brown, Andra Day, Kris Kristofferson, and Lukas Nelson. She’s also dueted with Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, and Jamey Johnson, and calls Bob Rock one of her mentors.
But it was Leslie DiPierno, GM of Tree Vibez Music, who convinced her to go to Nashville for three weeks to further hone her songwriting craft. “I was there for three weeks, writing every day in these amazing sessions with incredible writers and producers. By the end of the trip, I was just madly in love with songwriting. Pouring your heart out to these people and then coming out with something that was you, your story, was just addicting to me,” she says.
The five songs on Daydream represent an artist with a clear vision of what she wants to say and a mature, confident voice capable of conveying delicacy and power with equal nuance. They also showcase not only her broad vocal and stylistic range, but her ability to tap into wells of both joy and pain, not to mention moods in-between. “I listen to everything from J. Cole to Joni Mitchell. That’s quite a wide gap, but I do reference both of those people and their songs in writing sessions, whether it be the songwriting aspect or the track aspect,” Meola tells Rolling Stone.
Meola’s vulnerability really shines through on her next single from the EP, “Flaws,” which is also out on March 11. “The word flaw has a meaning that most view to be negative, when really, flaws should be celebrated as a showcase of humanities, differences that bring us the word, unique,” she says.
This song is especially personal to Meola as she opens up about her own uniqueness. “I was born with a few hemangiomas [a bright red birthmark], something my parents told me were angel kisses. Not a day went by that I thought twice about them until I turned 5 or 6. It was a normal day at the beach playing in the tide pools, digging up the sand and making new friends. What my new friends had to say about my birthmarks changed me. I was suddenly ashamed and uncomfortable in my own skin,” she continues.
But one day she realized that the only negative thing about her so-called “flaws” were other people’s reactions to them. “To let other people dictate my happiness, beauty, and self-worth would be silly of me. I wrote this song to turn my insecurities into confidence, and by listening I hope others embrace their wonderful ‘flaws’ and feel less alone. I hope to inspire others to view our differences as they are: unique and special.”
Meola will next perform at the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, CA in May. She joins the line-up that already includes Weezer, The Smashing Pumpkins, Steve Miller Band, Sheryl Crow, 311, Vance Joy, STP, Lord Huron, Black Pumas, and Cold War Kids.
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