When we think of independent artists, those who resolutely
plough their own furrows away from the major labels,
we tend to think of guitar bands, usually with distortion
turned up to 11. However, Athy crooner, Jack Lukeman,
has determinedly controlled his own career since the
release of his Brel-loving tribute, 'Wax' way back in
1995. It is proof of Lukeman's perseverance that he's
still devoutly independent in 2017 and testament to
his talent that 'Magic Days' is amongst his finest work
It kicks off with recent single 'The King of Soho',
a big, bold, brassy stomper that's a perfect calling
card, complete with an earworm chorus that impossible
to shift. It's a supremely confident opening salvo,
a Lukeman showcases that wonderful voice, capable of
switching from bruising baritone to sweet falsetto that
the drop of a note.
His songwriting has improved immeasurably and there's
a newfound maturity to tracks like the string drenched
ballad 'Sweet As Freedom' and the achingly beautiful
'Till I Saw You'. The latter is easily one of the finest
songs the Athy man has penned with the singer wringing
with every ounce of emotion from his voice.
But it's not just the ballads where Lukeman excels:
he's equally comfortable as the post-apocalyptic Pentecostal
preacher of 'Sky News Blues', a rolicking rocker where
our hero waxes testily about the tabloid-esque ticker
tape of the Murdoch generation with Lukeman imploring,
"stop telling me that the sky is falling down".
Similarly, 'Deeper Down The Rabbit Hole' is a whirling,
swirling Wurlitzer ride, complete with galloping drums,
bittersweet brass and gently tinkering keys.
Other highlights include the honeyed Waitsean 'Magi
Days And Magic Ways', outsider ballad 'Left Hand Man'
and the stellar subtleties of 'The Sunset Is Blue On
Mars'. 'Magic Days' confirms that Lukeman is only getting
better with age.