Listen: Lomelda – Hannah

By Devon Chodzin

Photography by Tonje Thilesen

Listening to a Lomelda record is like taking a polygraph test. It’s impossible to enter the encounter with your defenses up and still have them perfectly intact when it’s all over.

Hannah Read’s commitment to honesty not only exposes you to her truth — she exposes you to your own truth, with every strum and keystroke. That’s exactly what happened when I listened to Hannah for the first time — as Read meanders through styles and subgenres in an effort to rename herself, I have no choice but to question how I fit into my own life narrative, wherever it’s supposedly going.

Hannah is not afraid to switch between seemingly incompatible genres track-by-track. Between the plush softness of “Kisses” into the sparkling sincerity of “Hannah Sun,” I can already feel myself melting into a puddle of reflection. Every time she repeats “Hannah, do no harm,” I can feel the floor fall out beneath me. To follow up this gentle storm with “Sing for Strangers” feels like pure brilliance; it’s the only possible interlude that could’ve gotten me ready for “Wonder,” Hannahs powerhouse single. 

The instruments plod like oxen as Read repeats: “When you get it, give it all you got, you said.” This track’s fortitude convinces me that I’ve got something I need to push somehow, but what? Read doesn’t have an answer for me, and she takes a breath to pull back devastatingly on “Polyurethane.” It’s a short reprieve before going full-on rock star for “Reach,” a song that has me clamoring for answers. As Read stretches her voice to new heights, I’m in the throes of a full-on identity crisis. What can help me trace me back to my roots?

“Somewhere between the Texas plains and Zentropy, you can find Lomelda.”

“It’s Lomelda” traces a genealogy from Low to Frankie Cosmos, and as her favorite bands swing in lyrics that soar like biplanes, I have my first cry of the album. It’s so striking to hear someone with the talent and individuality of Lomelda locate her work in a lineage of infinitely many talents. Somewhere between the Texas plains and Zentropy, you can find Lomelda. 

“Stranger Sat By Me” forecloses any possibility that the mission to name is done. After the stranger takes her seat: “She asked me what’s your name / Are you ok?” As I search for the answer in the dwindling instrumentals, the track concludes, and I’m confused. That confusion continues through “It’s Infinite,” an incredibly relaxing song that continues to evade answers.

It’s on “Hannah Happiest” that the mission to name reappears, but this time it’s not about tracing a genealogy of “Lomelda,” but Hannah herself. As she names herself Hannah, the euphoria is overwhelming. Following “Hannah Happiest” up with “Both Mode” feels like complete brilliance — as the instrumental layers pile on during “Both Mode,” the magnitude of the naming process dawns on me. How am I supposed to celebrate my own name like her? How did she learn to do it?

“If – at the end of this record – Lomelda is ready to be Hannah, how ready am I to be sincerely and permanently me?”

Hannah’s last three tracks form one last peak, between the requisite softness of “Big Shot” and “Hannah Please,” along with the apostrophic cries of “Tommy Dread.” In a way, “Hannah Please” feels like aftercare. If – at the end of this record – Lomelda is ready to be Hannah, how ready am I to be sincerely and permanently me? How prepared am I to name and negotiate space when I’ve already been named and placed?

Between timeless folk and bombastic rock, Hannah lays bare the content of my soul as Read searches for her own, guided by a choir of angels. Emotionally, I am weary. At a time when disease has forced many of us to reconsider how we activate our senses of self, Hannah is the ideal record for learning which questions to ask. The answers don’t come easy, but they’ll make for incredibly beautiful music.

Devon (he/him) is a Cleveland-based event organizer. He loves radical theory, loud guitars, and hash browns. He lives on Twitter.