Photo: Jenna Moore

Shearwater re-emerges with the elemental “Xenarthran”, announces new album

Jonathan Meiburg has been busy over the last half decade, most notably writing a book and making music with Loma. While his beloved Shearwater project has released some quarantine music, today it makes its proper return with a new song called “Xenarthran” and the news that he’ll be releasing a new album called The Great Awakening on June 10. The album was recorded in Texas with his Loma bandmate Dan Duszynski on production duties, and Meiburg takes us to that location as he introduces “Xenarthran”:

“Xenarthrans are the ‘strange-jointed’ mammals, which mostly live in South America: armadillos, anteaters, and sloths. Only one species of armadillo has wandered up to the southern U.S., and while we were recording The Great Awakening in Texas, I often saw them scurrying dimly through fields at dusk or snuffling in the mud after a rainstorm, and I couldn’t help admiring them. They’d walked thousands of miles on their wispy little feet, long noses to the ground, trundling into alien landscapes filled withunfamiliar dangers. This song, and Emily’s eerie video, aren’t about armadillos, exactly—but they are about making your way through the dark spaces of a menacing but still very beautiful world. The roaring sounds near the end are howler monkeys I recorded in Guyana.”

“Xenarthran” moves elegantly forward on the soft-yet-impactful percussion and bobbing synth, combining like a motor pushing a small wooden boat down a stream through a forest, while Meiburg’s glorious voice serenades us. It’s a nocturnal track, Meiburg calling to us “while the night circles around the day”, his mind whirring over big questions; “the question is, how can you fool the mind? / You fool the body.” Silvery strings glide alongside these musings as we float deeper into this mysterious journey, compelling us on even as we have no idea where we’re headed. At the end, we hear howler monkeys welcoming us – equal parts fearsome and friendly, and altogether awe-inspiring.

The video for “Xenarthran” was directed by Meiburg’s other Loma bandmate Emily Cross. Check it out below or listen to the song on streaming platforms.

Shearwater’s new album The Great Awakening is out on June 10 through Meiburg’s own Polyborus label (pre-order/save). You can find Shearwater on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.