Shearwater: Big Sound, Small Space Shearwater isn't what you'd call understated. In this studio session from WFUV, singer Jonathan Meiburg and his bandmates don't let an intimate environment hold back their sound as they perform.

Jonathan Meiburg's reputation — as a scholarly character who earned a Master's degree in geography with a focus on ornithology — preceded him to WFUV, so I made sure to show him my penguin calendar before our in-studio session with his band Shearwater. My ploy to break the ice succeeded, as he shared a bunch of fun facts about the flightless birds and some of the exotic places he's encountered them.

We soon put the calendar away, at which point Meiburg led his touring band through a fierce rendering of "You As You Were" from Shearwater's latest album, Animal Joy. What Shearwater offers beyond ferocity is restraint. Meiburg's skilled arranging and developed aesthetics manifest in a song cycle that shows a flair for the dramatic and an appreciation of beauty and nuance. Meiburg may describe his booming voice as "not rock," but his vocals stand majestically when surrounded by guitar and drums. I mentioned Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and he responded enthusiastically. His songs are rich — royal, even — and remarkably beautiful.

Set List

  • "You As You Were"

Personnel

  • Jonathan Meiburg (vocals, guitar, keys)
  • Mitch Billeaud (guitar, keys)
  • Lucas Oswald ("mysterious box of wonders," guitar, tom)
  • Christian Mader (bass, vocals)
  • Danny Reisch (drums)

Credits

Eric Holland, host; Erin Wilson, audio engineer; Patrick Moore, editor; Claire Donovan, Fenizia Maffucci and Patrick Moore, cameras

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