Wednesday, October 21, 2020

JM’s book, a new Loma record, and revisiting Jet Plane and Oxbow

Dear Friends of Shearwater,

JM here. Even if it weren’t the week before the week before the US election, it would still be a big one at Shearwater HQ—not entirely for musical reasons, which I’ll get to in a moment. But if you’re up to your ears in helping people vote right now, please know that everything below can wait; I feel a little absurd sharing news about music and books right now.

1) In case you missed it, we sat in on a Twitter ‘listening party’ last week for Jet Plane and Oxbow—meaning that we tweeted along in real time as we listened to the record, shared stories and photographs from the tour and the making of the album, and answered questions. The whole exchange, if you’d like to see it, is archived here.

2) This event was also the first public test of my new Twitter handle, @jonathanmeiburg, which I created, along with (if you can believe it) an Instagram account, because of the next item:

My first book, A Most Remarkable Creature, was just formally announced by my publisher, Knopf.

Ad with book cover of A Most Remarkable Creature

The book is a wild journey through the deep history of our world through the eyes of the caracaras—crow-like South American falcons whose sharp minds and mischievous behavior baffled and amused Darwin. It also weaves in the life and work of WH Hudson, a visionary writer and naturalist who was the first to write about caracaras in a thoughtful and appreciative way. Writing it took nearly a decade, and following the caracaras’ trail through time and space changed the way I thought about my place in the world. I hope it will for you, too.

You can pre-order the book now through my new web site, where you can also subscribe to a dedicated newsletter about events and appearances related to it. And please do share this news with anyone you think might be interested! I’ve been working on this book for so long that I can hardly believe that it’s finally going to exist as a complete physical object.

3) And if that weren’t enough, the new Loma album, Don’t Shy Away, will be released in stores and streaming platforms worldwide on Friday. (Those of you who pre-ordered it from Sub Pop have likely already received your copies, or will any day now.)

Album cover of Don't Shy Away

I’m very proud of this record. It’s like stepping inside a sprawling, lush, beautiful secret garden, and it’s a real mind-meld between me, Dan, and Emily Cross. It also includes contributions from old and new friends including Emily Lee, Jenn Wasner, an exuberant horn section, and Brian Eno. (!).

It has already received a very flattering honor: BBC6 Music has chosen Don’t Shy Away as their Album of the Day for the 22nd of October. BBC6 listeners will be hearing songs from it all day.

The album itself drops on Friday the 23rd. You can pre-order it here.

One last thought: reflecting on Jet Plane and Oxbow made me shudder at what the world (and especially the United States) has become in the four years since we made it; it also highlighted the contrasts between it and the new Shearwater album I’m working on, which has been slowly and consistently evolving over the last few months, and reflects where we are now (though it isn’t without hope). We have intensive sessions booked in November and December, and I’m hoping to release it in the early part of next year.

Thank you, as always, for your support, your eyes, and your ears. I’m wishing all of you courage and stamina for the coming weeks, and I hope to see you soon in a braver world.