Luka Bloom – Innocence (2006)
purchase this album
I must begin by saying that, for a guy who spends so much time writing about these singer/songwriter types, my knowledge of Luka Bloom’s music is embarrassingly minimal. This is not by design, and I guess an expanded familiarity with Bloom’s other efforts isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to writing about his new stuff; it does explain, though, why I won’t be comparing Innocence‘s fifteen tracks to this or that previous Luka Bloom masterpiece.
What I can tell you is that Innocence is a damn fine record, delivered with the kind of minimalist elegance that comes with twenty years of making critically acclaimed (and, of course, mostly commercially ignored) albums. Matter of fact, this minimalism goes a long way toward identifying exactly what rubs me the wrong way about Sean Watkins’ Blinders On. They’re vastly different records, of course, and the comparison is probably grossly unfair, but I can’t help but notice how much Bloom manages to say with just a fraction of the noise Watkins makes on his album.
Bloom has figured out what might be the cardinal rule of songwriting, which is: When you can strip away almost every part of a song’s arrangement, and it still stands up, then you’ve really done your job. Bloom has been practicing the art of addition through subtraction for years now, and if he hasn’t perfected it here, he’s definitely come very, very close. Really, when a guy can hold your unwavering attention for close to an hour using little more than his voice and a guitar, there’s an awful lot he’s doing right. Check out “First Light of Spring” (download) and “Doing the Best I Can” (download).