EP: Lutalo – Once Now, Then Again review

by Craig Howieson

On Once Now, Then Again, Lutalo presents six tracks that orbit the space in which the natural world rubs against the complexities of contemporary life

The new EP from Vermont-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, Lutalo, is a thoroughly modern collection of songs. But with a rust-coated infrastructure, it displays their special ability to pair a deeply held love of their musical influences, while pushing them to new extremes. 

Tracks such as Call It In and Little Chance may conjure hazy images of lounging in the sun watching the world age. Yet, they are underpinned by percussive directness – a result of Lutalo’s early years playing drums, but also a signifier that there is an excited restlessness to even the mellowest moments. They may be happy taking their time, reflecting and refracting on Once Now, Then Again, but they are assured of the direction in which they are heading. 

There are elements of Lutalo’s singing voice that might bring Justin Vernon to mind. However, the real comparison to be found between the two is in their attention to detail – where layers of instrumentation hold the same value as moments of silence. Each track on Once Now, Then Again is a Russian doll. Something to be left on the shelf and appreciated at arm’s length, or alternatively unpacked until your heart’s content. 

Lutalo is somewhat of a musical magpie – plucking disparate musical elements (folk, indie, jazz, trip-hop) and weaving them into a kaleidoscopic cloak that is a much needed barrier from the banality of modernity. Lutalo now lives in a remote area of Vermont where they are working on making the dream of building a small community a reality. Such a setting seems fitting for this set of songs, and only heightens the anticipation of what will filter from this artist next.

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