Luka Bloom's music has made a few turns over the past
five or six years, going from the hushed sleepiness of Before
Sleep Comes to the gypsy-inspired ragas and reflective lyricism
of Innocence. On his latest release, Tribe, Luka
turns a somewhat darker, more introspective eye on the world.
Like his last couple of releases Luka steers clear of the normal
love song, and instead delves deeper into his own humanity and
the exploration of the motives and goings-on of the world around
him. The result is an album that is more evocative than anything
he's yet released, filled with darker and more personal sentiments
than ever before
and some inspiring and brutal honesty.
The album's title track is a low-toned affair with a subtle rolling
feel, produced even more subtly than the songs on Before Sleep
Comes. There is a feeling of joy and hope with a subdued flavor
that lulls the listener into a slow rocking motion with the soft
groove and a poetry that speaks of the wonders of humanity and
the things that connect people. The wonder found in the world
around us is nicely portrayed in "I Am A River", a well
produced softly played number with some aural tints that break
a bit of new ground for Luka. This album holds contributions from
electric guitars, diverse percussion, and even some synthesizer
that play nicely alongside Bloom's trademark acoustic guitars
and traditional Irish drums. "Change" is possibly the
most progressive of the tracks, building around a sharp, dirty
backbeat and an incredible electric piano riff. The dynamics of
the song lull and build into crescendos of sound and emotion unlike
anything Luka has ever done before, sounding at times almost like
Pink Floyd, especially as the song breaks into the instrumental
break "Early Morning." A completely non-traditional
love song is found in "Out There" as Luka asks purposefully,
"Did you know I was out there?/I knew you were out there/
I saw you in a dream/I saw you like a summer's evening you were
all alone out there
" as the song pulses with deeply
throbbing heartbeat drumming, glistening piano, and atmospheric
synthesizers. "Star Of Doolin" is an instrumental tune
that brings to the forefront Luka's Irish roots, filled with fiddles
and a droning reverence. The plight of humanity and the simple
truths of the planet and the lives of those who inhabit her are
put forthright in the talking story of "Homeless" as
Luka expounds on how seeing a man on the street made him re-evaluate
and put in a different light his own existence. The simple poem
of "Peace Rains" is set to a well-produced lo-fi backdrop
that breaks into the heart at a completely different angle than
any other song on the album, featuring stolid drums, overdriven
guitars, and bleeping synths
it's a weird trip for a Luka
Bloom record, almost like listening to some of Emmylou Harris'
more recent works.
Tribe is a bit of a departure for Luka Bloom, involving
sonic characteristics he's never approached before and a dynamism
that can only be found by involving larger numbers of participants.
But the heart of his music remains his lyrical sentimentality
and the keen ability he possesses of relating his humanity so
effortlessly, thereby creating a perfect safe place for people
to hear things that may make them think about something in a way
that they've never thought about it before. Luka Bloom pulls on
heartstrings and makes the soul wonder at its purpose more strongly
than ever before. Truly, this is his finest work to date, breaking
new ground while holding true to the strengths that inhabit all
of his works.
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