Luka Bloom - Album Review
LUKA BLOOM - BETWEEN THE MOUNTAIN AND THE MOON
All Peaks, Few ValleysThe brilliant blue sky accented by multicolored prayer flags on the CD sleeve could be an apt metaphor for both the diversity of the musical contents and the subtle spirituality within Luka Bloom's latest release, 'Between the Mountain and the Moon'.
A native son of Kildare, Bloom released this CD on St. Brigid's day (February 1) in both Ireland and the U.S. No doubt Luka had that in mind when he set the release date, as he has always been active in the Feile Bride (St. Bridget Festival) held in Kildare town for the last 10 years. With the patron saint of Kildare on your side, how could you go wrong!!
Spirituality, whether manifest by the Tibetan prayer flags, or by the works of a former Irish street child now working in Vietnam seems to be a common thread running through this work, unquestionably the most mature and self-assured of all Bloom's releases to date. Luka seems happy in his skin now, after going through several incarnations and brings a sure and confident self to these songs. Beginning with the standout track - 'Love is a Place I Dream Of', written by Bloom in tribute to Irishwoman Christina Noble. Sung in a duet with Sinead O'Connor, this achingly delicate ballad captures the longing of those who have been deprived of love - in this case, orphaned children in Vietnam and the promise of love coming to them. Christina, who grew up rough in the streets of Dublin, dreamt one day that she was to travel to Vietnam and help underprivileged children in that country. As implausible as it seems, she ended up doing just that, and has helped house, feed and educate thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. This song is in praise of her work.
Other heroes emerge from these songs by Bloom. Local heroes, like Micho Russell, farmer, whistle player and gentle man from Doolin, Co. Clare. Micho's music broke free of the pubs in Doolin and influenced musicians from all over the world. In 'Hands of a Farmer', his music is evoked yet again. 'Soshin' celebrates the tragically short life of Maura O'Halloran who studied Zen Buddhism in Japan. At the monastery in Northern Japan where she studied, she was the only woman and the only foreigner. Her Japanese name, "Soshin" means "pure heart, enlightened mind". Sadly, she was killed in a bus crash before realizing her life's potential. Her sister's illustrations are found within the liner notes of this CD.
Celebration - personal celebration, the celebration of extraordinary people, celebration of being Irish. All jostle for position in Bloom's singing. Love is found in many places - even in Ireland's eternal rain - as found in 'Monsoon'. 'I'm a Bogman' praises that most basic element in the both the landscape and those tied to the land - the bog. Often used as a slur, the term bogman is elevated in this snappy rap song of love of the land.
"No matter where your traveling takes you
Love continues through the song '">Gabriel', written by Luka in response to his young son who once asked if he believed in angels.
"My angel watches over me
The first time I heard the 'As I Waved Goodbye' (formerly titled "Leaving Lhasa"), Luka was doing it live accompanied by an Indian shruti box. When he went to record it, he wanted to do it on mandolin, but couldn't get the player he wanted. Therefore he decided to take up mandolin himself now uses it with great effect on this poignant song that was inspired by the book "Seven Years in Tibet". This cut vies with "Love is a Place I Dream Of" as my favorite on the CD.
This CD was getting plenty of airplay on the radio in Ireland while I was there in February, and I asked Luka how the response had been. "This is the first thing I've done that Irish people want to have in their collections" replied Bloom, "The response has been really amazing". Given that the Irish have an uncanny ability to dismiss anything done by people in their own country (unless some other country has embraced it first), it is nice to know that Ireland is finally realizing what a gifted musician they have in this Kildare man.
Review by Cindy Reich
Cindy Reich is a contributing writer for 'Irish Music Magazine', Dublin, Ireland,
© Rena Bergholz - Luka Bloom Page