24 March 2017 (released)
22 September 2017
On his latest EP Northern Lights Southern Stars, Phil Lomac lays out seven well-crafted indie rock tunes anchored by his shag carpet voice. In a similar vein to Chicago's Wilco, Lomac deals in a kind of midwestern, metropolitan Americana. Centred on the acoustic guitar but not full on folk. Jangly, with a highwayman attitude but not country. Indie but not lost in the temporary dalliances of the young. There's a deeper wisdom there.
The opener and title track's drums snap like catching gears while guitars pump and sputter around the beat. The bass lays shifty groundwork, darting side to side. Lomac's voice is warm and inviting with that slight trace of rasp to keep it honest. He sings through his anxiety in the face of the new and unknown: 'I got the shakes like a broken wheel spoke”. The verse opens up to a flourishing chorus where the northern lights play the role of a gate opening to a kind of heaven. The expansive halftime outro shifts gears with the feel of late Beatles on a sedative, propelling it further into dream territory. The bass holds on to the emotional centre while an earnest string bashing, Neil Young style solo brings the whole thing home.
The shuffling 'Read The Message' is a highway song for those cruise control moments in the middle of a long haul. Just as far from where you're going as where you've been. The trees flicker through your eyes like a card in the spoke of a child's bike. You hit a zen-like acceptance that there's no point trying to weave past the traffic, you'll get there when you get there. Ideas pop into your head like passing road signs, unobscured by the normal endless clutter, finally clear enough to read.
'Don't Know What Love Is' sways with airy strings. Lomac enters Elliot Smith territory, without that hopeless sadness. His croon is accepting of pitfalls yet still hopeful. 'No More Troubles' drums are heavy-handed juxtaposed with the light touch on the Rhodes keyboard. The descending riffs are wistful and sombre but the hook has an underlying optimism. The dichotomy makes for a standout track.
Phil Lomac's Northern Lights Southern Stars delivers a poetic reflection on modern life through an acquiescent but hopeful voice. A beautiful piece that further adds to that indefinable realm of Americana.