Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP
Loma never quite felt settled after the release of their self-titled debut. The hazy dream-pop trio first convened in 2016 when singer Emily Cross and multi-instrumentalist Dan Duszynski (then performing together as Cross Record) teamed up with Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg. After completing a tour for their first album, the members went their separate ways to focus on other creative pursuits. Then came a surprise blessing from Brian Eno, who shared his love of Loma’s song “Black Willow” in an appearance on BBC radio. With that winning endorsement, they decided to regroup at Duszynski’s home in Dripping Springs, Texas. We’re lucky they did.
Don’t Shy Away maintains the core sound of Loma’s debut, with Cross’ haunted vocals hovering throughout understated instrumental landscapes. Fans longing for the return of Portishead will find solace in the grey-skied gloom of songs like “Thorn”, “Half Silences” or the pulsing “Given A Sign.” This is contrasted with the brightness shining through the stately instrumentation of “Elliptical Days” or the cycling synths of “Breaking Waves Like A Stone,” swelling in size towards its triumphant conclusion. One constant throughout the album is Cross’ clarinet, swirling and shadowing her vocal melodies until it’s drowned by waves of brassy horn blasts. For closer “Homing,” Loma linked up with Eno himself, who was offered a chance to mix the song’s stem files into whatever form he liked. The result is a languid lullaby, settling into a place that finally feels comfortable while a familiar hand tucks them in to sleep.