[sic] Magazine

Loma – Loma

The fact that Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg has chosen this musical path following 2016’s Jet Plane and Oxbow is heartening. For me, Cross Record’s Wabi-Sabi, released the same year, succeeded in all the ways JPAO stumbled – by paying heed to nuance, texture, atmosphere. JPAO felt like it was over-reaching, striving in vain for universality. Loma is intimacy incarnate.

The backstory goes some way towards explaining how this album ended up sounding the way it does. Shearwater and Cross Record (Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski) toured together, then Meiburg invited the duo to collaborate with him – but it’s not quite the simple overlap between Shearwater and Cross Record one might expect. Meiburg’s presence is subtle rather than overt. It’s only really on mesmerising closer ‘Black Willow’ that Meiburg’s voice is clearly heard, his backing vocals blending with Cross to create something both eerie and reassuring. In writing songs for Cross to sing, Meiburg has retreated to a more affecting songwriting style that brings out the best in everyone involved. The result is an album on which every moment feels lovingly crafted and deeply felt.

Whether tracing out delicate spider webs of sound (‘I Don’t Want Children’), digging deep into nightmarish ambient-rock (‘White Glass’) or channelling the beauty of late-era Talk Talk (‘Sundogs’), Loma perpetually shifts across its 10 songs, while each piece feels drawn from the same well of inspiration. Learning that Cross and Duszynski’s marriage came to an end during the album’s creation only lends it further resonance.

I am extremely here for these songs, this sound. I hear vulnerability, sadness, defiance and tenderness. I feel it deeply. Over and over again. I doubt I’ll hear a better record this year – and it’s only March.

First Glances

Loma at Sub Pop

Article first appeared in Dots And Loops blogspot. For more from Tim please visit Dots And Loops