You might recognize MiWi La Lupa from his stellar work with the genre-colliding “Brooklyn Banghra” band Red Baraat. Or perhaps you’ve seen him playing trombone and bass trumpet alongside David Byrne, Bill Frisell, Femi Kuti or El-P. But with his debut record, New Way Home (out Jan. 21), La Lupa is now stepping to the front of the stage, in a decidedly different way: as a singer-songwriter.
Unlike the musically diverse bands he’s played in, La Lupa’s New Way Home is an album of singular focus -- in the best way possible. Through a concise eight songs, he mostly hews to a mellow folk and country rock that highlights an adept ear for songcraft, evocative moods, and scene setting -- like one of the album’s loveliest songs, “Here I Am.”
At one point or another, I’d suspect we’ve all had some eye-opening discovery while wandering alone around a new and unfamiliar place; however brief, these fleeting experiences can linger in our memories like a series of disconnected scenes from a road movie. With “Here I Am,” La Lupa captures that feeling with a warmly heartfelt portrait of his own travels.
"I wrote most of the lyrics while walking the streets of Antwerp last summer,” MiWi La Lupa describes in an email. “Looking at history in the architecture and on the streets made me feel lucky and incredibly nostalgic. The music captures these feelings to a tee!”
“Here I Am” is a ruminative tour journal, rich with imagery: La Lupa sets the scene with references to “streets of cobbled stones of old,” temples by the shore, fishermen, and women calling out for children -- equally specific and universally picturesque. And when coupled with swelling strings, sweetly hummed melodies, delicate female vocal harmonies and a lilting guitar counter-melody, MiWi La Lupa’s swaying folk waltz is a bittersweet, yet instantly calming look into the songwriter’s memories.
New Way Home is out Jan. 21, 2014 on Team Love Records and features a whole slew of guest appearances from Bill Frisell, Conor Oberst, Joanna Warren, Conor Elmes, Curtis Fowlkes, Rob Jost, Mara Kaye, Natalie John, Timothy Allen.