Jack Lukeman has a voice that feels like a friend’s hand on a troubled shoulder. From his 1995 debut album — Wax, performing as Jack L with the band The Black Romantics — his opulent voice has enticed admirers like a porch light attracts Southern Emerald and Hummingbird Moths on hot Mississippi nights.
Over the years, Lukeman expanded his European audience with the release of a string of albums; generally featuring his own compositions. The 1999 release of the Multi-Platinum album Metropolis Blue gained him some attention on the U.S. side of the pond, and for a time his evocative Rooftop Lullabye and Georgie Boy, a clarion call to the world’s creative procrastinators throbbed the American airwaves.
With each release Lukeman’s vocal gems erupted on the scene surging forth like velvet lava. 2005 saw Broken Songs with the haunting hit single Open Your Borders. 2008 brought Burn On, an homage to singer/composer Randy Newman, The Great Wall of China EP in 2013, delivered the unabashed bravado of The King of Soho.
Overtime, at venues as prestigious as London’s Royal Albert Hall and The Lincoln Center, would be appearances alongside celebrated talents such as: Robert Plant, Marianne Faithful, Elvis Costello and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
But then, the unexpected happened; Jack L., the rock troubadour, glittering in the gold spandex, underwent a metamorphosis to emerge as Jack Lukeman, the artist.
Lukeman’s singing had always been a banquet for the ears: surfeiting malleus, incus, and stapes, feasting the oval window until glutting the basilar membrane with a voice so exceptionally rich it should be delivered to audiences via a Brinks’ Van. But with maturity, his voice seemed to bestow a clairaudience on the listener; the sense that beyond the range of hearing there was something…heard.
It’s there, on his newest album Magic Days, his first studio recording of original material since 2013’s Great Wall of China, which gives us a supple perception of a performer falling through himself.
Opening with a thunderous rendition of King of Soho, which can be seen as his signature song, a journey commences that takes the listener through a familiar world, with the politically shaded Sweet as Freedom, to the frolicking lambasting of Sky New Blues (for Sky News read Fox News). But then, Lukeman shifts, spinning us into another world, with the haunting The Sunset Is Blue On Mars followed by the surreal ballad, You Are The Sea, where love is personified as a substance which though grasped, is never held.
Situated at the album’s midpoint, Magic Days and Magic Ways and the aptly titled Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole, with a whirling brass dominance summoning up Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, take us further into a landscape of Lukeman’s conjuring. The Show and Lefthand Man delve into that conflicting duality of extrovert and introvert; of which every artist must confront.
The album closes on two songs that counterpoint one another. The first is Superman 2, told from the perspective of a man lamenting his inability to be to his lover, all that he imagines she wants him to be. Of all the tracks, it is perhaps the glibbest with a distinct coating of studio shimmer layered in, which may have been a strategic consideration in its placement.
For the last track; Till I Saw You, is the most straightforward of the album, as a traveler realizes that some journeys only end when we can see what we have left –
Thought I found it all,
Till I found nothing at all –
Lukeman’s voice will stay with you, like an echo spun of silk.
With arrangements by Brian Bym and Derek Cronin, Vasileios Gourgourinis producer and guitarist Conor Brady and drummer Conor Donavan along for the ride, Magic Days is a delightful and poetical journey for those who long to believe in what eludes belief.
♦ ♦ ♦
To learn more about Jack Lukeman visit: jacklukeman.com
Support the Voices of The TVolution. Like us on Facebook and Please Subscribe.