For the band Lomelda, empathy comes with few words, with silences, with space and with time passing.
Musician Hannah Read’s third full-length project under the pseudonym Lomelda, "M for Empathy," is just 16 minutes long. Only one of its 11 tracks ventures past the two-minute mark, making every strum and every word vital to its message.
Read's brand of intimate and emotionally bone-crushing bedroom pop first drew a real audience in 2017 on "Thx," her first record put out by indie label Double Double Whammy.
Essentially a road-trip record, "Thx" documented Read moving her life to another state, painting highway imagery with careful strokes capable of touching those experiencing any kind of life change, big or small.
In "M for Empathy," another bedroom pop album, the landscape is more myopic, but the stakes feel even higher. The lyric sheet is sparse, direct and grasping for human closeness.
Read starts where "Thx" left off, seeking comfort from a friend living states away in the song “Talk.” Just over a minute long, “Talk” demonstrates how fleeting such conversations are and how little time it really takes to go out of your way for someone you care about to show them you love them. The type of intimacy Read sought here might be unachievable, and she understands that.
For Read, physical and emotional distance are consistently insurmountable, but that doesn’t stop her from striving for empathy.
“Tell” is my favorite track in the album — and one of the year’s best tracks so far — and it’s basically one line of lyrics. It’s a gentle helping hand, “Tell me what you’ve been through,” but halfway through, her double-tracked vocals croon, “But I can’t.”
The song encapsulates everything she’s striving for on "Empathy." She’s going to try to be everything for everyone she cares for, even when she knows she can’t be — when it’s out of her control.
In tracks like “Bust,” Read searches for something universal. "Bust" comes from the unshared monologues formed in the shower or right before falling asleep about how much we care about the people in our lives: “I thought of so many things to say to you / But what were they what were they? What were they?”
She’s often accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, just a few chord changes, no choruses or bridges required. The structures are simple and honest, because these types of conversations don’t happen on set terms. They happen all at once. Words stumble, feelings overflow.
For 16 minutes, Read strives for the type of empathy most of us are too scared to even attempt.
'Music Mondays' is a weekly column run in conjunction with the University of Richmond radio, WDCE.
Contact contributor Conner Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org. Evans serves as the music director for WDCE, the University of Richmond radio.