Many musicians are storytellers, but Hannah Read, the songwriter behind the Lomelda moniker, seems more like a character in her own drama. Hannah seems to almost write not to explain her place in the world, but to further understand it. Towards the end of the excellent Far Out, lifted from her upcoming album Thx, Hannah’s words become an almost nonsensical rambling, it’s a brilliant way to summarise that exasperation at just how confusing and challenging life can become.
Thx is a masterclass in space and texture, a record that you can almost hear creaking and breathing. The instruments seem to have been left almost unproduced; it’s not that the instrumentation isn’t stunning or that it’s a particularly minimal record, the instruments just seem to be alive. When the notes of a piano ring out on Only World, you can hear the pedals clunking into place, as the fingers run up and down one guitar string on Nvr you can heard every crackle and buzz. This sensitive production creates an atmospheric whole, a world where no notes are wasted and no detail hidden from earshot.
The most impressive instrument throughout is, as anyone who’s heard Lomelda’s music before will already know, Hannah’s vocal. It truly is used as an instrument, the tone has a touch of Mothers’ Kristine Leschper or She Keeps Bees’ Jessica Larrabee, but the way Hannah plays with swooping, ever-changing melodies is equally a nod in the direction of Elliot Smith. Hannah’s words seem to always be fighting for meaning, they’re full of sadness, hope and perhaps more than anything, questions. On Out There, she seems to be genuinely clambering for answers as she sings, “do I sit in darkness, waiting for what’s out there?” Bam Sha Klam charts an unravelling relationship in all its unflinching details, as Hannah sings, “sometimes there’s romance, sometimes we’re useless”. While it’s arguably the title track Thx, that comes closest to some sort of resolution, as it pleads for anything but sympathy, “please don’t be mad at me there’s no need to be sad for me, I’ve got lots of love left”.
It’s anything but brash and showy, but Thx is a record that quietly demands your attention. In the beautiful melodies, and perfectly judged instrumentation, Hannah has crafted something quietly ambitious, a record that draws you in and has you hanging onto every perfectly judged word. Thx is a masterpiece, and ahead of its release next month, Hannah has taken some time out to answer our questions, discussing adjusting to life on the road, why she makes music, and the joys of basketball and eggs on toast.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Lomelda?
Hello, I am Lomelda.
FTR: Your new album Thx is out in September, what can you tell us about the recording process?
I recorded it alongside my brother Tommy Read. The drums were performed by Zachary Daniel. And I did the rest of it in scattered sessions throughout end of 2015, beginning of 2016. I think that’s right at least. A lot has happened since then, I’m having trouble placing it exactly. The recording memories kinda lift off the timeline for me, exist in this other zone. We took a lot of care to make this record sound a particular way. I hope that is felt.
FTR: You seem to have a complex relationship with your pseudonym, where does Hannah Read end and Lomelda begin?
I’m really not sure yet.
FTR: The album’s coming out on Double Double Whammy, how did that come about?
Mike, who runs the label, contacted me on a recommendation from another DDW artist who found my music on bandcamp somehow…I’m not sure how. I should ask! Bandcamp is a beautiful blessing for the worldwideweb.
FTR: You seem to share a certain musical ideology with the other bands on the label, was that important to you when you signed with the label?
Yes! I feel kindred to the other folks on the label, even though my world is very different from most of theirs — until recently almost all the artists on DDW were from NYC, or close by. I have great depths of admiration for these artists and the way Mike runs the label.
FTR: You’ve got a fairly relentless touring schedule in support of the record, do you enjoy life on the road?
I’ve only been on tour twice in my life so far. So I don’t feel like I can answer this question very accurately. By the end of this year, I will have a more educated answer to this question.
FTR: What did you do differently with Thx as opposed to your previous output?
I trusted myself more. And I performed way more of the content than on previous recordings since the band was just me and my drummer.
FTR: How would you describe Lomelda’s sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
Hm I might just burn them a CD. But maybe I’d say something like it’s got guitars and drums and me singing. It’s gentle sometimes, though not always. It can get loud, abrasive even. It’s never very fast. It tries to stretch and squeeze time. It’s mostly sad sounding, but pleasant enough, this time at least. I guess all this to say, I probably wouldn’t try to describe it because I have a fear of words.
FTR: What are your aspirations for this record? Is music a viable career?
I don’t know. I hope to keep making music. I will always try to make good things and good friends.
FTR: We read your new single was inspired by your brother probably not meeting Elliot Smith. Can you explain that further?
That story was a one time telling, a goofy older brother prank, that stuck with me because it scared me. It is terrifying to think about the power of music, a song — the way it reaches across time and space and attaches to other people’s imaginations and emotions. Think about all the lives within Elliot Smith’s reach. It is sad and beautiful.
FTR: Why do you make music?
To help me make friends.
FTR: Who are your inspirations? What were you listening to when you wrote Thx?
A few of my inspirations during the making of Thx include Karen Dalton, Nina Simone, Nina Nastasia, Owen Ashworth, Steph Curry, Serena Williams and Henri Matisse.
FTR: Do you have any other creative outputs?
Music mostly. But I like to play basketball. And I like to cook, eggs, toast.
FTR: What’s next for Lomelda?
A lot of touring! See y’all soon.
Thx is out September 8th via Double Double Whammy. Click HERE for more information on Lomelda.