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Loma - Loma (Album Review)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018 Written by Helen Payne

Photo: Bryan C. Parker

Loma’s self titled debut is a record that requires multiple attentive listens. A collaboration between two bands is bound to bring a fascinating quality to any record, and this melding of alt-folk duo Cross Record - Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski - with Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg is certainly one to get lost in. Throughout their self-titled debut, the trio develop, grow, and work out what Loma is, just as the writing process allowed Cross and Duszynski to develop, grow, and work out what their marriage is. Or isn’t, as the case may be.

This is not music for a loud and bumpy car ride, nor is it background noise for a busy town centre. It’s music to accompany contemplation and self-reflection in, say, a secluded forest, or looking out over a calm lake. It needs time and care devoted to it, much like the marriage that fell apart during its creation.

The opening two tracks blend seamlessly into one another despite their opposing styles. The first, Who is Speaking?, unveils a finger-picked guitar pattern and ethereal vocals asking a philosophical question: “What does the night have to do with the day?”

By proposing these opposites early on, the band set the scene for differing opinions, changing forms and the blending of genres.

Its partner, Dark Oscillations, furthers this by echoing its melodies, toying with them, but this time aligning them with experimental percussion, a backdrop of subtle beats and electronic motifs. It gifts a broad range of textures to a song that rewards a listener with decent headphones.

On these expansive opening songs, and throughout the album, harmonies give way to something bigger. They complement, agonise and dance around Cross’s lead vocal melodies, creating unexpected twists at every turn. Their voices weave and dodge each other, reminiscent of how two lives can be so tightly intertwined, yet so far apart. It’s interesting to note that most of Loma’s lyrics were written by the third wheel, Meiburg, while unaware of any marriage difficulties between his friends.

Joy, the album’s signature song, comes across as almost medieval in style, with use of woodwind instrumentation. It’s easy to envisage armour, swords, horses and villagers stood proudly in a vast rural landscapes like something out of Game of Thrones. But its follow up, I Don’t Want Children, is a heartbreaking, bittersweet announcement: “But if I did, I would want them from you.” It’s underpinned by a hazy piano line, and a gentle feel that shows off Cross’s excellent vocals working perfectly with Duszynski’s production. Each side propels the other’s emptiness further with ghostly soundscapes, sustained synths and sparse layers. It sounds like loneliness in a room full of people.

It is Loma’s ability to transcend - jumping easily from centuries-old battlegrounds to modern, mood-lifting synth pop on Relay Runner and then to the intimacy of Sundogs - that makes this album so inviting. It’s not boastful about it, though. The trio navigate their way through 10 songs in a quiet, understated manner, taking care not to take the unity of the present for granted, uncertain where the future will take them.

Loma Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed May 30 2018 - BRIGHTON Hope & Ruin
Thu May 31 2018 - LONDON Lexington
Fri June 01 2018 - BRISTOL Rough Trade Records
Sun June 03 2018 - MANCHESTER Gullivers
Mon June 04 2018 - LEEDS Headrow House
Tue June 05 2018 - GLASGOW Hug and Pint
Thu June 07 2018 - DUBLIN Whelans Upstairs
Fri June 08 2018 - LIVERPOOL Buyers Club Music
Sat June 09 2018 - OXFORD Cellar

Click here to compare & buy Loma Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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