In the band loma, a test of relationships, musical and otherwise – the boston globe gas vs electric water heater


“The energy of starting a new project has the same kind of honeymoon quality to it as when you first fall in love with someone,” says Meiburg. “Even though we had been on tour a long time together, we didn’t know each other all that well. So, suddenly, when we got into working together every day, you get to know each other in a very different way.”

Meiburg wrote lyrics for the admittedly shy Cross to sing. (“He tends to jam a lot more into a song than I do,” says Cross.) She, in turn, approached each song as if embodying a character. That approach paid off on “I Don’t Want Children,” a song so intimately confessional that one imagines it should only be listened to on headphones when no one’s watching.

The trio opted to keep accidental noises — a panting dog, a chair scraping on the floor — in their richly textured recordings. They enhanced the often-hushed chamber music by splicing in ambient sounds from outside the house. Meiburg, who is an ornithologist in his life outside of music, recorded the gossip of parakeets and braying of macaws coming from a neighbor’s aviary over the hill. Wandering through fields where bluebonnets periscope above wild grass, he taped the rhythmic “ribbit-ribbit” of frogs, cicadas shaking like maracas, and wind whispering to the leaves of a Bradford pear tree.

Duszynski and Cross were fascinated by their bandmate’s adventurous spirit. To research his upcoming book about the twin fates of the caracara bird species and the 19th-century naturalist William Henry Hudson, Meiburg spent a month paddling upriver in the jungles of Guyana. On a related trip to the Brazilian rain forest, he came face-to-face with a jaguar. He’s the Indiana Jones of rock music.

Over a series of brief sessions every couple of months, Meiburg learned more about his new bandmates. Duszynski had wooed Cross after he’d seen her play a solo show. They formed a band, fell in love, and moved from Chicago to Texas almost on a whim. But the married couple didn’t yield all their secrets. Meiburg was floored when Duszynski called him to say that he and Cross were getting a divorce.

Loma joins a select club of bands (including ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, the White Stripes) in which divorced couples continued to make music together. Meiburg himself went through a marital split with Shearwater bandmate Kimberly Burke, but they continued working harmoniously together afterward. The strange power of music is that, sometimes, it forges a bond even stronger than nuptial vows.

Loma’s album includes a breakup song that Meiburg wrote late in the session. “Shadow Relief” isn’t specifically about his bandmates, but it was his way of acknowledging the charged atmosphere. Cross sings as if she’s wringing her heart out like a squeegee.

“They were both committed to finding a way to keep their musical partnership going no matter what — and Loma made sense as a way to do that,” says Meiburg. “Maybe I helped make that easier in some ways. I’d like to think so. They’re both such gifted artists.”