Pens From Spain is the brand new record from Loch Lomond. The elements we've come to love from the Portland band are all here, like dear old friends: engaging vocal harmonies, thoughtfully multilayered arrangements, fingerpicked guitar, chimes, bells. This time, however, drum machines and synths are back in the mix after a decade in hibernation. The title track of the same name begins with intimately paired classical guitar and bandleader Ritchie Young's understated vocal. The barroom style choir emerges from the distance and the song veers into unexpected territory: a vintage drum machine beat drops and dubby organs give way to discofall strings. The song ducks deftly between genres, nimblefooted and sure, and it's clear that a new sense of self has emerged for Loch Lomond.
The album took shape in fits and starts most came into being at Jesse Donaldson's home studio, with additional recording at Peter Broderick's Sparkle Studio in Pacific City, Oregon. Some were arranged and mixed with Jengalike fastidiousness, others have an impulsiveness, still others, room to breathe. Throughout the album these characteristics keep a fascinating tension, creating a journey for the listener.
Endowed with a powerful voice that seesaws from baritone to falsetto, Young is a study in contrasts: his slight frame belies a commanding vocal performance, and his deflecting persona doesn't hint at the simultaneously offbeat, macabre and tender lyrics. He's complemented by producer and guitarist Jesse Donaldson, vocalist Brooke Parrott, drummer Ji Tanzer (Swansea, Rebecca, Blue Cranes), keyboardist Rebecca Sanborn (Swansea, Blue Cranes), bassist Pete Bosack, multiinstrumentalist Julie Bosack, and trumpeter John Whaley (Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Run On Sentence).