7:30pm, Central Presbyterian Church
Jonathan Meiburg sits back comfortably in his chair, an easy air lilting through his soft-spoken voice as he pushes aside his empty plate. "You haven't said the 'O' word yet," he says, laughing lightly behind a sheepish smile.
There's hardly any reason to mention the "O" word. Last summer's Palo Santo (Misra), Shearwater's fourth LP, found Meiburg asserting himself as the group's principal songwriter and lead singer, positions he had previously shared with Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff. Today Shearwater is cresting on its own waves: In 45 minutes, Matador Records will announce that Shearwater has signed with the indie powerhouse.
"I was really kind of shocked," admits Meiburg. "When things started falling apart with our last label, I starting casting around, sending e-mails to anybody that I could think of."
Matador bit almost immediately, showing interest and floating ideas back to the group. Shearwater was quick to sign. "It's a great label," says Meiburg. "It's got a terrific roster and really good record of caring about its artists."
As their first Matador project, Shearwater is re-releasing Palo Santo in an expanded two-disc format next month. The remastered version is extraordinarily clear, Meiburg's falsetto gorgeously detailed against richer, more dramatic textures. And the timing is ideal, as both Meiburg and the group are just now coming into their own.
"I think a lot of the artists that you love follow that sort of trajectory," he says. "These days you're expected to have your debut album be your big hit and emerge from the egg fully formed. It's taken us a while to find something that's really special, that's really us, and now we're there."