Folk-rock band debuts with 'Luna'

Music has been a part of Rebecca McCusker's life at just about every stage. At 6, she began playing piano. From 14 to 19 she studied opera. In college, she sang 1950s music in an all-women's chorus. And at 22 she picked up the guitar.

But not long ago, McCusker, now 28, set music aside to focus on writing. “I tried to get into grad school for creative writing, and I got in, but I couldn't afford it,” she said. “After that I burnt out on writing so hard. I'd spent hours every day writing fiction. I thought, you know, I miss music.”

But McCusker wanted to play in a band. She put out a call on Facebook, and Emily Ng, who plays bass and viola in the Salty Caramels, answered. “It wasn't until I was outside her house when I thought, ‘I should tell someone where I am in case Rebecca and her husband try to murder me!'” Ng said, laughing.

Ng and McCusker soon brought the Salties' Paige Vandiver into the fold on drums, and before long the musicians were writing, rehearsing, drinking wine and recording songs for their new trio, Linden Hollow. The band will release its six-song debut EP, Luna, on Friday, Jan. 12, at Rambling House.

“I'm glad we got away from more of the singer-songwriter sound and more of a full rock band sound. It's so much more satisfying to me,” McCusker said. “The energy [Ng and Vandiver] bring changes the songs so much.”

The folk-rock songs on Luna are laced with anger, acceptance, anxiety and finding solace in nature. “‘Second Arrow' is about shame and judgment,” McCusker said. “The concept of a second arrow is Buddhist. You make one mistake, and the pain of the mistake is the first arrow, and beating yourself up is the second arrow. … So there are themes of shame and anxiety, dealing with other people's shit, and that shit contributing to your shame and anxiety, and then being like, ‘Screw this, I'm gonna live in the woods,' which is exactly what I did.”

Last fall, McCusker and her husband moved to two wooded acres in Carroll, Ohio, in a house heated by a wood-burning stove. “I'm a total nature nerd,” she said. “All three of us love being out in nature, and that theme in the music continues.”