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Loma - Don't Shy Away (Album Review)

Thursday, 29 October 2020 Written by Sophie Williams

Photo: Bryan C. Parker

The road to Loma’s second album hasn’t been smooth. An extensive, laborious tour cycle finally took its toll in the summer of 2018 when the indie trio contemplated calling it quits, with vocalist Emily Cross looking towards a solo career, and her bandmates—multi-instrumentalist Dan Duszynski and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg—harbouring doubts about an uncertain future.

But then something miraculous happened. When the legendary Brian Eno praised their single Black Willow on BBC Radio 6 Music in December of that year, a creative spark was reignited, and a remarkable tale of rehabilitation began. “In Loma, nobody wears the crown, so we have to trust each other—and we end up in places none of us would have gone on our own,” Meiburg has said. “I think we all wanted to experience that again.”

The expansive follow-up to 2017’s self-titled debut serves as a chance for the Sub Pop signees to work their sound into sharper focus, as exemplified beautifully on Breaking Waves Like A Stone, a sumptuous lullaby built on brushed drum patterns and a twinkling piano lead.

The horn-assisted Ocotillo finds power in its folksy simplicity, with its yearning, plaintive melody floating along like a shivering autumn leaf. It knowingly hints at what may have come for Loma before: “All my ties are broken / I’m in wonderful disarray". 

Yet the best moments are the most unexpected. Eno makes good on his previous tip-off with a glowing contribution on dreamlike closer Homing, while the rousing Elliptical Days is wrapped in koto flourishes and a spellbinding vocal from Cross, who lifts the song into ethereal territory. Here, Loma have created earthy, delicate and impressively focused compositions that together have the power to work as a perfect, comforting antidote to a hellish year. 


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