Premiere: Lily Kershaw Grapples with Past & Present in Her Latest Single “Now & Then”

Lily Kershaw © Shervin Lainez
Lily Kershaw delivers a soul-baring single in “Now & Then,” a grounded, raw, and stirringly clear account of the disparity between a relationship’s past and present realities.
Stream: “Now & Then” – Lily Kershaw


How do we come to terms with what was, and what is? Los Angeles born and based singer/songwriter Lily Kershaw grapples with that very question in her latest release “Now & Then.” The result is a soul-baring track that ultimately acknowledges the often irreconcilable rift between the past and the present. The song, which has lyrics that read like a letter to a lover and diary entry all in one, is bold in its fragility, strong in its vulnerability, and honest in its nostalgia-fueled recollections.

Now & Then - Lily Kershaw

Now & Then – Lily Kershaw

Remember the roof top parties
Remember the friends
Remember the way I love you now
And the way that I loved you then

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Now & Then,” the first single from Kershaw’s sophomore album to be released later this year. Kershaw, who will be joining Joshua Radin and The Weepies on their fall tour presented by SiriusXM’s Coffee House, has succeeded in finding a sound that is uniquely hers: grounded, raw, and stirringly clear.

“‘Now & Then’ is the most stripped song on the record,” Kershaw tells Atwood Magazine. “It is a very intimate and personal song. This new record is a bit of a journey both sonically and story-wise, so I liked that the first song to be released is the most intimate, bare, and direct lyrically. I think it’s a good point of entry.”

While her sophomore album in its entirety can be described as a journey, “Now & Then” as a stand alone single explores a journey-esque narrative as well. In the chorus, Kershaw refers to an array of colorful personal memories – from rooftop parties to friends – and asks the person she is singing about to “Remember the way I love you now // And the way that I loved you then.” There’s a dissonance between the two different types of love, and this doesn’t go unlamented by Kershaw, as the refrain takes center stage throughout the song.

The trademark of “Now & Then” is, without a doubt, its biting honesty. Kershaw, who is no stranger to getting real about her feelings in her music, admits that the song is very personal.

You spent all your time
With a bottle of wine
And we’ll never know
If our love could have grown
Cause you kept me on the line
But never close to be mine
What was the dream that you had
When you woke up and you were sad

“Sometimes it is easier for me to say the truth in a song than it is to say to a person directly and ‘Now & Then’ is no exception,” she says. “This is the truth for me and what I wish I could say to someone who has meant a lot to me.”

Lily Kershaw © Shervin Lainez

Lily Kershaw © Shervin Lainez

For Kershaw, songwriting has provided precisely that: an outlet to express feelings that she didn’t have the opportunity to say in the past, but are too precious to leave unsaid. Songwriting has also been a place Kershaw has looked to find clarity, gain perspective, and process her experiences. She admits, “I need lots of time alone, to process things and to write. I’ve always needed to spend time alone, but the older I get, the more I realize how much of an introvert I am.”

The 28-year-old, who premiered “Moonlight” with Atwood last year, admits that she has grown as a musician, but she still has a place in her heart for her old songs. Her growth is magnified with “Now & Then,” but Kershaw still gushes about “Moonlight,” stating, “I love “Moonlight!’ It captured a moment in time for me. I like to think of songs as little characters, and I try to create sonic worlds for them to live in. As long as I effectively do that, no matter how much time passes, a song will usually still resonate with me.”

And that is what differentiates Kershaw’s music: the presence of these sonic worlds she creates for every new track and album to live in. None of Kershaw’s songs are just songs; they are stories that have story arcs. She puts meticulous consideration into all of her work, and “Now & Then” reveals this to be true. The result are songs that are relatable, and allow us to indulge in the experience of being understood. She does believe, however, the sonic worlds she creates are best comprehended as a unit.

Maybe we know all the ways this could go
All the ways it would end
Were you ever my friend
Were you sad and alone
When you broke on the phone
What was I to you
As you passed through

“This record is a concept album and is meant to be heard as a whole. It is a journey and also an infinite loop,” Kershaw says. “Every decision was made consciously and specifically to work with the whole. I am really excited for people to hear it!”

“Now & Then” is a realization, a plea, a wistful appeal that maybe, just maybe, the person the song is about will realize how much they meant to Kershaw and take a minute to consider what they might have become. It is a song about unfulfilled potential, about a love that is lost because it never had the chance to happen. There was love, and there is love, and though it is not the same type of love, it is love nevertheless. And yet, the rift between past and present tears these two people apart, so that they can only ever exist as anything more in a sonic world of Kershaw’s creation, where rooftop parties and friends are plentiful, and love is actualized.

Listen to “Now & Then” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and dive deeper into the music via our interview with Lily Kershaw below!

Stream: “Now & Then” – Lily Kershaw

A CONVERSATION WITH LILY KERSHAW

Atwood Magazine: Why are you debuting your second album with this track?

Lily Kershaw: “Now & Then” is the most stripped song on the record. It is a very intimate and personal song. This new record is a bit of a journey both sonically and story-wise, so I liked that the first song to be released is the most intimate, bare, and direct lyrically. I think it’s a good point of entry.

Last year I was honored to premiere “Moonlight.” How does that song resonate with you now? How has it stood up over time?

Kershaw: I love “Moonlight”! It captured a moment in time for me. I like to think of songs as little characters, and I try to create sonic worlds for them to  live in. As long as I effectively do that, no matter how much time passes, a song will usually still resonate with me.

Lily, it’s been about a year and a half since your EP Lost Angeles released. What have you learned about yourself in that time?

Kershaw: I need lots of time alone, to process things and to write. I’ve always needed to spend time alone, but the older I get, the more I realize how much of an introvert I am.

Similarly, how have you grown as a musician? What’s changed creatively for you?

Kershaw: I trust myself more now. My writing process has always pretty much been the same since I was a teenager, but I trust it and myself more fully now. And I trust myself when I get on a stage or in the studio. I listen to my gut and I just go for it!

Lily Kershaw © Shervin Lainez

Lily Kershaw © Shervin Lainez

What inspired the lyrics to “Now & Then”? Why was this theme relevant for you?

Kershaw: Sometimes it is easier for me to say the truth in a song than it is to say to a person directly and “Now & Then” is no exception. This is the truth for me and what I wish I could say to someone who has meant a lot to me.

What can we expect from your sophomore album, that perhaps wasn’t present in your debut album?

Kershaw: This record is a concept album and is meant to be heard as a whole. It is a journey and also an infinite loop! Every decision was made consciously and specifically to work with the whole. I am really excited for people to hear it!

Stream: “Now & Then” – Lily Kershaw

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Now & Then - Lily Kershaw

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Madison Zoey Vettorino is a Journalism student at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She is passionate about both the written word and music because she believes they have something incredible in common: the capability to bring people together.