Album Review: Roma di Luna - Then the Morning Came

by Bethany Barberg

Roma di Luna - Then the Morning Came
Roma di Luna - Then the Morning Came (Courtesy of the Artist)

From the first track on Then The Morning Came, the latest release from local group Roma di Luna, listeners may be able to tell that this band has gone through a transformational period: entering parenthood. The baby noises and musical chaos on "Baby Hotel" was created by babies from four of the band members. Alexei and Channy, the husband and wife duo that started Roma di Luna in 2006, recently became a trio at home with the addition of their daughter Pelagia and a sextet on stage adding guitarist Ben Durrant, bassist James Everest, drummer Ryan Lovan, and backing vocalist Jessi Prusha.

4 of the 6 band members of Roma di Luna entered parenthood. The explosion of new life and the joy it brings is evident on Then The Morning Came, but it is coupled with loss and death. Throughout the making of the record Channy lost a man who she considered a second father, and Ben Durant lost his mother to a long battle with throat cancer.

The title of the album sums up the duality of the themes on this recording. While the band was in studio on The Local Show, Channy explained the meaning of Then The Morning Came.

"Morning, you know as in the two sides of it, there was a lot of sadness before the babies came with the loss of Ben's Mother and our family friend, and then once all the babies came there was this new feeling where the night time became this madness where you couldn't get any sleep, and you are trying to figure out how to deal with this new life. Then the morning would come and I get to try again, so I've got a new day and I can do something differently to get the baby to sleep. It ties into the metaphor that we are going to struggle through this death this loss and then the morning would come."

The title of the album can also be found on the song "Below our Feet," which was written as a memorial to the people the band lost over the making of the album and then the new life they met. "oh its strange living with the dead below our feet/ my friends and loved ones bury this grief with me. "

Then the Morning Came marks a shift in Roma di Luna's Americana folk sound. The band takes on a jazzy gospel horn-filled sound on "Before I die," and a steel guitar bluesy sound can be found on "Miss You too." Then a soul groove is present on "Hey Lover." Part of the shift, Channy explained, was her becoming more comfortable as a singer, which allowed her to develop new sounds. This album also marked a difference in Roma di Luna's songwriting pattern with a child in the house. Alexei and Channy would take turns sneaking away at naptime to write; and Channy wrote a majority of the songs on this album while her daughter sat on her lap.

The album was recorded at Ben Durrant's studio, Crazy Beast, which has also been used by Andrew Bird and many other artists. The recording process took longer than 2007's Find Your Way Home, and 2008's Casting the Bones. The bands changing dynamics and the added difficulty of getting 6-7 people in one room at the same time added to the prolonged recording time. The result of the almost two years of work on Then the Morning Came resulted is a beautifully haunting juxtaposition between life and death and a finely crafted third full length release.