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April 14, 2018

9 p.m.

Loma w/ Jess Williamson at The Sunset

The Tractor Tavern

Loma’s self-titled debut reveals a band obsessed with songs as sound. There are endless details to discover here, stoked by the album’s urgent and searching lyrical themes (exquisitely delivered by the translucent voice of Emily Cross); and on headphones, the album feels both intimate and expansive, like casting your eyes over a detailed painting on a vast canvas.

It’s also the product of a joint pilgrimage around the globe by fellow touring musicians. Jonathan Meiburg is best known as the singer of Shearwater; Cross and the multi-instrumentalist and engineer Dan Duszynski form Cross Record, originally from Chicago. They met through Ben Goldberg (of Badabing! records, who helped launch the careers of Tune-Yards, Beirut, and Sharon Van Etten), who sent Meiburg Cross Record’s 2015 album Wabi-Sabi, which led to the two bands traveling together across America and Europe throughout Shearwater’s 2016 tour for Jet Plane and Oxbow, often crammed into the same van. The tour was Cross Record’s first, but Meiburg was shocked by their maturity and confidence. “I couldn’t believe all that sound was coming out of two people,” he says. “They had their own world, their own rules, and they slayed every night. They were mesmerizing.” 

While in the van or at soundchecks, they shared their musical knowledge and love of nature and animals. “I think Jonathan is one of the most special people we’ve ever met,” says Cross. “It’s hard not to like him. He has such a curious mind.” And after an especially memorable show in Belgium, Meiburg approached Cross and Duszynski about working together. “I fell in love with their music,” he admits, “and I wanted to know how they did it.” 

They convened for two weeks in the house outside Austin where Cross Record recorded Wabi-Sabi to see what would happen, recording “Joy”, the gorgeously ambivalent “I Don’t Want Children”, and the beginnings of five more songs. An album seemed surprisingly imminent. “There was something special about the combination of the three of us,” Meiburg says, “and very different from either of our bands. But I think we were afraid to say so out loud, for fear of jinxing it.” 

This sense of discovery extends to the listener; at times, Loma almost seems to be listening to you. But it doesn’t sound small, or hushed; “Dark Oscillations” and “Jornada” have a gritty, futuristic grandeur, and there’s also the loping groove of “Relay Runner”, the galloping euphoria of “Joy”, and the resolutely ambiguous choir of “Black Willow.”  “The album is a journey,” muses Meiburg, “but we didn’t know where we were going until we arrived.” The journey’s end came with a surprising lesson.  “It’s about having to let some precious things go,” Meiburg says, “so that new ones can take their place.”

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