The musical partnership between Anthony Dettori (The Sunburys) and Roz Pappalardo (women in docs and The Soldier's Wife), Lontano write alt country-folk songs that will appeal to fans of such celebrated songwriting tandems like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Based in two different locations, Lontano's songwriting and music explores the concept of distance both thematically and in practical terms, with song narratives formed around 'distant hearts and minds' and 'the gravity that tugs through the space between people'.
The second single from their eponymous debut album (that will be released on vinyl in November, digitally in February), 'Half Seas' is a song many will relate to – using alcohol to manage emotional challenges.
For the uninitiated, the anachronistic expression 'half-seas over' refers to being a little worse for wear due to the consumption of alcohol.
"['Half Seas is] about creating emotional distance by dulling the senses, just coping until we can engineer a better reality or a way to cope sober," Roz says.
"While all this sounds a bit grim, as the melody hints, it's actually a fairly optimistic song – we can teach ourselves to navigate towards our dreams, even if we need a bit of anaesthetic to get through the journey."
Delicate, intricate instrumentation paired to a melody that adds a much needed injection of positivity to the serious subject matter the song deals with, scenestr is delighted to premiere 'Half Seas' ahead of its release tomorrow (13 October). Enjoy.
"When this project kicked off," Roz says about the formation of Lontano, "we were both recording albums for our other projects, co-incidentally with the same producer, but we'd been moving in the same circles for many years.
"One year we did a cracking version of The Pogues' 'Fairytale Of New York' for a Christmas gig in Brisbane, which might have been where the seed was planted.
"Anyway, after dabbling in a few cameo appearances on each other's albums, we sort of accidentally wrote an album together. Or three. The songs just tumbled out of us, and the project grew legs very quickly."
Anthony adds: "We have sung together before, that's true, but we hadn't seriously collaborated with the songwriting process before.
"We live and work in different cities, so creating a new project was a bit accidental, but the distance became part of the story, and we found that the process of collaborating made both of us push ourselves to try new ideas.
"So, all the Lontano songs were written long distance. With 'Half Seas', Roz started it off at home in Cairns, then sent it to me (in Brisbane).
"She had the gist of the story in place, and a melody – when it came to me, I reworked the structure and melody, and tweaked the lyrics a bit, then sent it back. Roz made a few other changes, and then we tacked the recording on to one of her solo album sessions."
Roz continues: "Yeah, the gist of this story is mine, although some of Anthony's input modifies the meaning.
"I think if I'm brutally honest about it, my part was deeply personal, and I don't want to name names or air dirty laundry, but I think we can safely say it's about a relationship being over, and about needing a bit of Dutch courage to get past that awful time when the future looks a bit scary.
"Spoiler alert: I survived. And I don't need to be half-seas any more. The storm has passed, the sun has come out, and there's no looking back. Unless there's a song in it."
Lontano will launch their self-titled debut album at Brisbane Powerhouse's Livespark) 27 February, 2022.