Lutalo — the project of Vermont-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Lutalo Jones — announces their signing to Winspear, the first-ever physical release of their debut EP, Once Now, Then Again, on vinyl out June 23rd, and releases new single “Familiar Face.” “Familiar Face” sees Jones atop electronic production, a fascinating continuation of Once Now, Then Again’s loose and wide-ranging framework. The original EP was deliberately fluid, and “Familiar Face” sees Jones continue to challenge the generic boundaries of folk, rock and soul. Like the rest of the tracks on Once Now, Then Again, every instrument heard on “Familiar Face” is played by Jones.
Of “Familiar Face,” Jones states: “I often like to consider the idea of shifting realities. I think it’s a fun and cool concept that makes living and the general everyday far more interesting. I know there are examples of certain cultures where it’s believed that this ability is possible and I guess for me this song is just channeling that and just diving headfirst into this form of thought.”
Lutalo grew up in Minnesota where life constantly took them back and forth across the Mississippi River, from their Minneapolis home to school in St. Paul, before they settled for a while in New York City. Introduced to playing music through the African drumming classes their parents took them to as a child, Lutalo was educated on the Black experience in America by their father’s love for hip-hop, jazz, and Bossanova – from MF Doom to A Tribe Called Quest. Today, Lutalo’s life is much different. They moved further east to live among the green peaks of Vermont, and took ownership of an area of land alongside family. With a shared intention of building a small community, their collective aim is to live life differently, and create something tangible that can be passed onto future generations. The to-and-fro energy of their early life is now replaced by something more steady, a desire to not get caught up in the intensity of the world.
It’s this overwhelming potency of modernity that ripples through Once Now, Then Again. Spanning both of Lutalo’s contrasting worlds, the songwriting began in the Twin Cities before being finished in the serene surroundings of Vermont, and both environments leave their mark on Lutalo’s rich and absorbing sound. “I tend to grapple with a lot of existential questioning, I wanted to capture what it feels like to be a twenty-something in this time period, reflecting on our relationship with technology, the Internet, relationships, world governments, housing…all while discovering what it means to be an adult and how our definition of what that looks like begins to shift,” Jones states. “The vision I have for this project is not so much genre-based as it is sound-based, and that sound is just a reflection of me. I didn’t want any boundaries because I’m not trying to replicate anything that’s come before, I only want to be adding to music in some way.”
Surrounding the release of Once Now, Then Again, Jones dazzled audiences through opening slots supporting The Weather Station and Novo Amor, with a slew of upcoming European dates alongside Big Thief. For now, Lutalo’s world consists of pastures and new beginnings, the search for brightness in spite of all the dark. Across Once Now, Then Again, the boldness of Lutalo’s visual rings clean and true. They might not have the answers, but they know the questions that need to be asked. They remain optimistic in attitude, steadfast in their belief that change can only happen when you believe in a better future.