The story of Cross Record, the duo of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski, was a fairy tale. The pair, a couple in life and in art, moved to rural Texas to escape the city — does it matter which one? — and let the calm in. They used the time to cultivate and create an album, Wabi-Sabi, that was written and arranged and performed and recorded and layered precisely and beautifully and strangely. It slipped off classification like silk, guitars layered to effect a harp or electrified to squeal and yawp, songs heaved into disciplined pummel (aided by the percussion genius Thor Harris), bedrocked by Cross' unaffected, meditative lungs.
While touring behind Wabi-Sabi, Cross and Duszynski formed a deep friendship with Jonathan Meiburg, the singer of another barely classifiable band, Shearwater, while on the road with him. They brought Meiburg to Texas to explore a collaboration, which became a new band itself: Loma. In the process, Cross and Duszynski's fairy tale came to its close — they broke up, but forged ahead towards this eponymous record, together with Mieburg.
"Black Willow," the first song released from that record and also its closer, is a painting with darker contours than anything on Wabi-Sabi or Shearwater's most recent album Jet Plane And Oxbow, while retaining the depth and confidence of each. In the video, Cross dances on mud-pocked river rocks with her younger avatar, a calm and unburdened catharsis in calm dance. She opens the song by observing a new path: "Because I rode up to the edge / Because the life I lived is dead." A life that can't relate to that sentiment is one that needs to jump.
Loma's self-titled debut album comes out Feb. 16 via Sub Pop Records.