14 augustus 2020

Lees in het Nederlands

Luka Bloom

Bittersweet Crimson

Geschreven door: Marcel Hartenberg

 (vertaald door: Marcel Hartenberg )

Uitgebracht door: Big Sky Records (eigen beheer)

Bittersweet Crimson Luka Bloom Roots 4.5 Luka Bloom – Bittersweet Crimson (EN) Written in Music https://writteninmusic.com

It is very hot these days, yet the sound of Luka Bloom’s Bittersweet Crimson album assures us that summer breezes will return. The first song, Can We Stay, already opens the album in a very relaxed manner. This was the first song Luka wrote for this full-length record. He had in mind to make an album full of songs flowing from one into another. At the same time, making sure that the musicians involved could put their all into the music. While the music had already been written, there still was room for the musicians to paint the songs with their own musical colours.

With the songs written, Luka wanted to assemble just the right people for the recordings. Enter Steve Cooney on guitar and bouzouki, Robbie Harris on percussion and Jon O’Connell on double bass, banjo, keyboards, electric guitar as well as additional backing vocals. Jon saw to the production of the album together with Luka. After merely one single rehearsal a month or two before the studio was booked, it had to happen. The album got recorded in two days. That sounds like really little time, might even sound like a rush job. Yet,worry not. When you listen to the album, the flow of the album feels so very natural. It holds a very relaxing atmosphere and the way Luka and his team have worked this, almost feels like magic.

The Beauty Of Everyday Things is an excellent example of this. Very relaxed, almost self-evident by its title alone. It’s in the music, it’s in the lyrics. Adam Shapiro adds violin, there is bouzouki and there are the great backing vocals by Niamh Farrell, a perfect match for Luka’s voice, This one’s a song that makes you forget the heat of the day and yes, you might even forget about this pandemic which has been upon us for months now. At the same time though, it may very well contain the message that even in times like these we must not lose sight of the everyday, that we must continue to see the beauty, continue to appreciate it. The artwork, which is at the same time beautiful and presenting everyday, spreads that feel as well. This is a great song.

The Day The Great Oak Fell is equally beautiful, itself a warm ode to the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Wonderful introduction by the guitars, subtle bass line, it works its magic from the start. We have only just heard the beginning of the album and the songs are almost magically strung together. That feeling is not going anywhere when we reach the title track.

Food and music, a woman once told Luka at a concert, are the two things that bring people together. Luka already wanted to do something with that message and thought about it. After a few days he knew: the pomegranate. Sharing the pomegranate to him is a symbol of love and friendship. In this time of tension between countries and cultures, he wanted to celebrate friendship between cultures and between peoples with his song. Just experience it for what it is.To create a song with such an impact and at the same time, never going for big sounds.

Front Door Key is another beautiful subtle song, with wonderful instrumentation. Slowly but surely the subject of the song reveals itself, the first references to “My beloved olive trees” may already give away something, but when Luka is wondering who will sing for the country, we’re closing in on the subject at hand. The last line “Who will sing for Palestine” makes it clear. A song that unintentionally now fits very well with current events. It’s a song that hits you. And it would, even so, without the tragedy that has now hit Beirut. Now it just gets to your heart in a more direct way.

Bittersweet Crimson, an album that has spun many rounds already. Sometimes there are these records that are very satisfying. This is one of them. Is it a record that changes the way we thinks about music? Well, not in an earthshattering sense maybe. Its songs vary, either  inspired by the forest fires in Australia, the essence of spending time with friends and the meaning of that in these days of the pandemic. All this in eleven beautiful songs. No matter what track you decide to listen to, one of the aforementioned songs, or the beautiful old love-inspired Keepsake, the very appropriate tribute to Mali blues (lovely loops!), Love To Mali, the dark and restrained Who Will Heal The Land (with its citation of The Foggy Dew) or one of the other songs, this is all very beautiful.

Bittersweet Crimson, you won’t find it at a streaming service for your convenience. Luka is very clear about that: “When you stream, what you do is support the streaming sevices. You are not supporting the artists or those otherwise involved in the making of the record.” The full statement can be found in this news item (partly in Dutch). This is very clearly put by a musician who chooses to speak out. Making music is about just that, making music, about the people who make it, that’s what it’s about. Music has never set out to enrich the shareholders of the streaming services. To put it bluntly: without music and musicians, there simply would be no streaming services. No matter how convenient you think streaming is, no matter how quickly you can switch from one record to another: making music is still a craft, it is an art form, it is not just there to be given away. Yes, it deserves genuine attention. And above all, the bands and artists who have chosen to be musicians, to dedicate their lives to music, they do so because music is a part of life for them. Please, let’s not see their work as replaceable, bereft of substance, as disposables.

Bittersweet Crimson is a wonderful album. Naturalistic in its contents, very much in the here and now,  and, like in earlier work, raising attention to the environment and what we make of it. With its ode to Mali music, its concern for Lebanon, the thoughts about the earth, Australia, the latter expressed in words in Who Will Heal The Land, pastoral at times, it is an album that can really caress you like a summer breeze. Still, the underlying message cannot be misunderstood. Be in the here and now, enjoy, not in hedonism, but especially with attention to the people and the nature with which we share this world. Perhaps more so than Frúgalisto, it has become a memento of this time on earth. Here, it’s spinning again, the album that is. Did I say it? It’s great!

  1. Can We Stay
  2. The Beauty Of Everyday Things
  3. The Day The Great Oak Fell
  4. Bittersweet Crimson
  5. Front Door Key
  6. Keepsake
  7. Love To Mali
  8. Who Will Heal The Land
  9. My Old Friend The Oak Tree
  10. The Hunger
  11. Vision For 2020