Luoma “The Maple Plain”

Independent, 2022

Fair to middling, back porch Americana recorded in the countryside of Minnesota – worth a visit, but you wouldn’t want to spend too long there…

Luoma - The Maple PlainThere’s an air of mystery to Luoma’s ‘The Maple Plain.’  It’s not simply the fact that the writing and recording of the album began in a 100-year-old house in Saint Paul, Minnesota and then shifted to another property the same age, in the same state, located in the countryside, near Saint Bonifacius. No – what gives this record a sense of intrigue is the scant press information that accompanies it. Apart from being told all the songs were written by Eric Wayne Luoma and feature a host of guest musicians from England, Canada, Nashville, the Catskill Mountains and Argentina, we have very little else to go on.  You get the feeling that Luoma like it that way – these intimate songs were recorded in the quiet of the country, away from the city – a furnace adds a constant drone in the background, and you can even hear a rooster crowing on the creaky ballad, ‘Leaving Again.’ There’s actually a track called ‘Country Life’, which sounds like it was written on a back porch, early one summer’s evening.

One of the few details about the recording of the album is that the ‘hum of home’ was picked up by the microphones used during the sessions. First song, the slow chug of ‘Bear State’ – “I love California as a place to lay the blame – face down in sunshine” – has a Wilco feel, with its hazy air, lethargic mood, pedal steel and warm organ, while ‘Twisted Limb’ is rootsy Americana, and ‘Gift of Time’ recalls singer-songwriter Chris Mills, which is obviously a good thing.  Luoma describe the album as ‘more of a grainy landscape than a well-lit portrait’, which is a fair description, although sadly the atmospherics are often more rewarding than the songs – several of them, particularly on the latter half of the record, drift by without really making much of an impression.

It may be nice hanging out in the country every once in a while, but there’s not much interesting stuff going on there…


About Sean Hannam 76 Articles
Freelance journalist, editor and presenter. Digs retro specs,The Smiths,Dylan,Cash,Richard Hawley, Scott Walker, Lee Hazlewood, country / Americana and '50s/'60s pop.
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