Left to right: Jon Roods, Anna Lombard and Dan Connor of Love By Numb3rs. Photo by Alex Fisher

Love By Numb3rs is a new band comprising Anna Lombard, Jon Roods and Dan Connor. Their debut album, “Parachute,” comes out Friday and is already my favorite local album of 2020. Its 11 tracks traverse roots, rock, indie, soul and gospel, and I would not be surprised if the album earns them national airplay and attention.

“Western Son,” with guest musician Josh Duym on electric guitar and dobro, is a sweeping, glorious tune with a twangy vibe and Lombard’s far-reaching vocals. “We’re like tiny grains of sand/The tide will come and go/And then pull us back to land/It’ll save us in the end.”

“Lost in the Deep Snow” has Lombard and Connor each taking a verse and then singing in unison, “If you’re scared of flying/Hold onto my hands/Don’t take off without me/Don’t take off without me,” which sounds like both a promise and a plea, and it’s magnificent.


“Parachute” ends with the gospel tune “The Glory.” The early version was penned by Connor several years back and was a personal prayer. “I never thought I would use it on an album. I would sit around and sing it to myself when I was at my lowest, and it would always make me feel better.” On “Parachute,” it’s Lombard’s voice you’ll hear, and she reaches unprecedented heights with it.

It’s also Lombard’s voice on “Don’t Let Me Die,” and although I’ve been a fan of her vocals since first hearing her sing “So Lonely” with Gypsy Tailwind back in 2008, she somehow keeps getting better. “The chill of the water/It was rolling like thunder/Tide was a coming and along came this man,” she sings with restrained yet potent conviction.

The story of Love By Numb3rs upends the notion that it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to make an album. This might be the one time that it actually did.

First some nuts and bolts. Multi-instrumentalist Roods is best known as a member of Rustic Overtones. He engineered, mixed and produced “Parachute” and also plays several instruments on it, including drums, bass, guitar, percussion and Moog (synthesizer). Lombard sings and plays piano, harmonica and glockenspiel on the album, and Connor sings and plays acoustic guitar, piano and Wurlitzer organ. “Parachute” was mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering and was recorded at South Ranch Records, which is the name Roods and Lombard have given to the home they share in South Portland where the kitchen doubles as a studio. Alex Fisher was executive producer of the project.

Lombard and Connor were bandmates in the hugely popular roots and Americana act Gypsy Tailwind. Gypsy Tailwind formed in 2008 and released “Halo Session,” followed by two others, the second of which featured a different vocalist because Lombard was on hiatus. In 2012, Lombard rejoined the band, and they were working on their fourth album when things unraveled between the bandmates and they called it quits.

That same year, Connor found out he had a peach-sized malignant brain tumor. Surgery, chemo and radiation treatment followed. Connor said he’ll never forget how incredible it was to have his Gypsy Tailwind bandmates show up to the hospital and be by his side as he was wheeled into surgery.

Since then, Connor has gotten his brain scanned twice a year, and all of those scans had come back clear, until June when another tumor appeared, which, Connor explained, is fairly typical with his type of brain cancer. After surgery in September, Connor is now nearing the end of six weeks of radiation treatments while also taking an oral form of chemotherapy.

Rewind to about five years ago, when Connor and Lombard ended up as neighbors for a time and repaired their friendship while also working on songs together. “I knew there had been songs that Dan had been working on and trying to flesh out forever, and we would practice some of those songs,” said Lombard.

In September 2019, Connor reached out to Lombard and Roods to see if they’d be interested in making an album together. They said yes. “We all went into it with no expectations of what the end result would be,” said Lombard.

By December of last year, they had started working on it and would gather twice a week to write, track and record songs.  Then the pandemic hit, and for a few months, Lombard and Roods continued on their own until Connor was able to safely return to their home in the latter part of spring. Then came the news that the cancer was back and Connor was told by his neurosurgeon he had to schedule his surgery within six months. He chose mid-September, and the three musicians forged ahead with “Parachute.”

Love By Numb3rs “Parachute” album cover. Design by Walt Craven

Originally they were going to call the band Glory By Numbers, but landed on Love By Numb3rs accidentally. Lombard wrote Love By Numbers by mistake on the band’s Soundcloud link. The next morning, she woke to a text from Connor declaring it was brilliant. They added the “3” to the spelling afterwards. The band credits their friend and executive producer Alex Fisher with coming up with the album title. It resonated with all of them, especially since they realized that a parachute and the mind both work better when open. There’s also another reason.

“We started thinking about the safe landing to get through what Dan and we were all going through on different levels but altogether,” explained Lombard.

“We were all parachutes for one another,” added Connor.

“Parachute” will be available on all streaming platforms, and the band is planning on releasing vinyl. Follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/LOVEBYNUMB3RS) and Instagram (instagram.com/lovebynumb3rs).

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