words by josh henderson
photo by adan carlo
There is a something romantic, freeing and purposeful about long distance driving. Road tripping, in particular, is usually done in pairs or as a group which subsequently means that under these circumstances the likelihood of relationships being tested and lives being altered are probably pretty high. The road trip is also a good analogy for life – they’re both fleeting, unpredictable, sometimes harrowing and constantly in flux. Enter Hannah Read – who records as Lomelda – a singer-songwriter from small town Texas whose latest album Thx coasts along like a car surging down a roadway. It’s a generous, delicate, honest and remarkable collection of songs full of uncertainty and curiosity. And the warmth and openness of the recording makes listening to Thx feel like an expedition – akin to sitting in the driver’s seat while Read navigates from the passenger side.
“Wrap your arms around me / I’ll be still” are the first words sung on opener “Interstate Vision” – a track that finds solace in the serene. There’s also a nervous energy present as Read sings “Interstates are not what I want / Headlights scare me into visions” as the seemingly endless mundanity and harsh noise of the highway creates tension. It’s only when she’s sitting still that her surroundings come into focus and her vision clears. And that’s really the crux of Thx – it’s an album about exploration, human connection, self-examination and the importance of being thankful, present and attentive. Read seems to be encouraging these traits, really, even when life feels scary, ambiguous, sad or exhausting.
The production on Thx is gorgeously lush and while Read’s previous work certainly doesn’t lack clarity this record is the work of an artist progressing. Every sound is precise, each detail considered. Co-produced by her and brother/bandmate Tommy Read, the personal touch is evidenced throughout. The songwriting, Read’s exceptional vocal ability and the album’s cohesiveness are without a doubt the reasons Thx is such an assured statement but the production should not go unnoticed. From the thunderous clatter that kicks in just after the halfway point on “Bam Sha Klam” to the graceful strings during “Far Out” and the subtle yet perfect piano accompaniments on “Nervous Driver” and “Only World,” these songs require your full attention. Close listening reveals ten intricate, thoughtful and memorable arrangements.
Throughout Thx, Read is looking forward, staring at a future that is as inevitable as it is unpredictable. During the succinct title track she references “The start of another year / And another life in a year” as if to embrace the beauty of probable change. On “Out There” – a song inspired by Read’s brother’s fictional tales of hanging out with Elliott Smith – among various observations of the environment from behind a car window she admits “I don’t know what’s out there” emphasizing how insignificant one can feel among such vastness. In the case of “Far Out” you don’t have to look any further than the track’s title to grasp Read’s outlook. The closing number “Only World” offers an acknowledgement of those unavoidable prospective changes, “Just look at me now / And look at you now / We’re nowhere I thought we would be right now” Read gently intones. It’s affirmation of the fact that life never stagnates and personal growth is perpetual.
With this album, Lomelda have created something truly compelling. Thx conceives of a world full of possibilities and finds meaning in movement and perception. It wrestles with the idea that there is a great deal of distance between who you are and who you’ll be; nothing is guaranteed, our ultimate destination is unknown. But Hannah Read also explores the importance of being mindful in the present not in spite of life’s anonymity but because of it. If you continue to allow the world to fly by the car window in your periphery, it all becomes a blur. Sometimes it’s essential to slow down or pull over. A big thx to Lomelda for that gentle reminder.
Thx is out now on Double Double Whammy
Order it here