In early autumn, Anna Claire Loftis released her signature single Pity the People as well as a five-piece debut album Brevity.
Every note and every word you hear from this album are the earnest testimony of this 22-year-old girl. The album emits rich emotions, but not a bit of grievance. The message it reflects is profound, but not heavy. For example, she depicts herself in the first song Brief Encounter like a bird singing wholeheartedly and hoping to capture your gaze for these lyric-driven ephemeral moments.
“I wanted this album to be a little bit different, with a little bit deeper message,” she says. Instead of writing typical love songs, Loftis chooses to bring a new perspective on how to live in this bewildering world.
“We only have such a short time here on earth. If we are so caught up in our little world, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and why we are here,” she says as she explains the fundamental spirit of Brevity.
The message she mentions can be seen evidently in Pity the People. Loftis talks about the bible story of Jonah in this signature single. “It was late one night, and I was reading through the story of Jonah,” she says, “I don’t know, the whole book just stood out to me.”
When Loftis was a child, she was always told (in church) about the “Jonah and the whale story,” which is essentially about a large fish that swallowed Jonah and held him in its belly for three days and three nights. But reading about what happened after the whale story, left her stunned.
“I just could not believe what I was reading,” she says.
After escaping from the fish’s belly, Jonah went to Nineveh and prophesied to the city, resulting in the inhabitants repentance. However, he became very angry. Hoping for disaster, he sat outside the city to await its destruction.
“Take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live,” he told the Lord, he would rather die than watch the people of Nineveh be forgiven. The amount of hate that Jonah holds in his heart surprises Loftis. Starting with a strong melody, the song begins with:
Chosen people, chosen race
Chosen politicians: At the end of their reign
There’s only one chosen man
Rulers & religion
Heartache & economy
There's finish lines & deadlines
It's a discord & a harmony
Nineveh still needs you
This world still needs you
“Maybe Jonah’s reaction has been somewhat normalized in society today,” Loftis says, “and maybe... how I treat people as well.” She starts asking herself questions like : “When I look out towards the city of Nashville, the city of Montgomery, do I love the people in Nashville? Do I love the people in Montgomery?”
Am I seeking the truth And am I speaking what’s true?
Am I blind and unforgiving
And unkind and unrelenting
And stubborn and self-serving
From my ultimate hate of you?
Pity the People comes after the second song Greatest moment, a song encourages people to fight their battles courageously. “In Pity the People, I talked about the greater picture,” she says, “and Greatest Moment is about the great battle.” The “great battle” is not about the fight between two individuals but something beyond that.
It is a competition about good versus evil or even a battle between your lazy self and your spirit of getting stuff done. Just imagine everybody pursuing a deeper battle, the “victory” mentioned in this song would be more beautiful.
I hope there’s fire I hope there’s flames I have no doubt that we’ll destroy the opposing team I hope there’s lightening as we’re sprinting down the field
I have no doubt that
we’ll enjoy the victory
If Greatest Moment can be described as an unruly storm, then the fourth song 5 More Minutes can be seen as rain falling in very fine drops. Loftis recalls first writing the song in a middle of an exam. “It was exactly how I felt in the moment that I really just wanted five more minutes,” she says.
She later also raises a new question— what would you do when you get that five more minutes? Would you spend more time to focusing on the people in front of you?
“I remember... I came home one day and I looked at my dad, then I was like ‘Dad, I am just so bad at remembering people’s names. I might meet that person three times, and still not know what his/her name is,’” she says. She recalls her dad's response: “you would know, if you cared enough to know.”
In this hurried world, we all need five more minutes to focus on ourselves and the people in front of us. With the pain of wanting five more minutes, she sings:
I promise I will focus climbing uphill,
tethered to a treadmill
Can get five more minutes, today? I promise I will focus climbing uphill,
tethered to a treadmill
Can get five more minutes, today?
The album ends with True To Myself, a slow song filled with soft melody and strong emotional tension. “I remember, it was a year ago, I was driving to work. I was envisioning the office, but nothing about it seemed very “Anna Claire.” I did not feel like I was living up to my full potential,” she says, “I was just very upset.”
In that moment of despair and confusion, she nudges herself to listen to her aching heart and be true to that voice.
Am I unshakable? Was I really meant for more?
Cause I feel breakable ike a china doll in shards on the floor
Am I unshakable? Was I really meant for more? Cause I feel breakable like china...
I don’t want cry tonight I’m just tired putting up a fight
for something that doesn’t matter
I’m climbing off this ladder I have to be true to myself
Writing, recording and releasing this album are her ways to be true to herself. “It would have been really easy not to do it. It would have been really easy to just dream about it, but never make it happen,” she says. But when she feels the urge to do it, she tells herself tenaciously “just do it.”
So now, to experience this remarkable journey of her soul, put on your headphones, press the play button and enjoy the music.
- Regina Lam