The Age, Melbourne - CD Reviews - March 15, 2007
Tribe - Luka Bloom
Initially this seems to be ideal music for an autumn afternoon. Each day the sun goes
lower across the March sky, leaves are starting to change colour, the world is at the
cusp of seasonal upheaval; there's an air of expectancy as winter approaches.
In Sound, Luka Bloom sings: "Walking through the winter trees / Naked branches
in the loss of leaves / Naked in the wind and rain / No escaping winter's waiting game."
In his mellifluous voice and easy melodies, Bloom and his collaborator Simon O'Reilly
are making music that feels like balm for the soul - low-key but substantial, sedate
without being sedentary, with enough jagged edges on songs such as Change
and Out There to provide gentle contrast.
But under the surface this record pulses with notions of change and how it isn't
generally easy. Indeed, on the beautifully placid title track Bloom sings: "All around
the side streets, needles look for veins where bullets found their mark in old rebellions..."
Recorded in Dublin, this is Irish music that pays homage to its makers' roots in
subtle ways, but mostly it's music for today. The spoken-word number Homeless
and the dirge-like Lebanon hold out hope and despair in equal parts.
Readings Monthly - Your Independent Book, Music and DVD Newsletter - March 2007
Luka Bloom's albums are like comfortable old jumpers; they're familiar sounds
that warm us on cold winter nights. On this new album, Luka describes in song
how, now more than ever, individuals must learn to think of themselves as part
of a single entity (the world) and not as members of a particular race or country.
Communication on a personal level and not on a political or social level will see
us through. The album is unique for Bloom in that it is a collaboration (with
producer Simon O'Reilly). Bloom also only plays guitar on two tracks, favouring
the use of some great guest performers.
LF - Staff Review
Celtic Lounge - Saturday, March 17, 2007
Luka Bloom & Simon O'Reilly - "Tribe"
Welcome to the lounge, sit down, put your feet up and sit back and let
this new release from Luka Bloom and Simon O'Reilly flow over you like a
warm cup of tea as you settle down with a good book. If you're familiar
with Luka's music, here's a bit of a different twist to peak your interest
and show the new paths that Luka has taken as a writer and performer.
Not one to usually collaborate in writing, performing, or recording,
Luka has waited until finding just the right complement to the softer style
that has come through in his more recent writing. He pairs, in writing and
performing on this album, with Simon O'Reilly, an electric guitarist and
multi-instrumentalist from Doolin, County Clare. They have a terrific fit,
and the nuance of Simon's musical vocabulary goes well alongside Luka's own
rich and substantial sound.
From expounding on the joys of singing the day away on Sound to an
omage to meanderings of the Liffey on I am a River to a beat poet-esque
spoken word tale of a Homeless man in LA, awakening in Luka his own
misgivings about the affects his lifestyle have on the environment, the
connection he has to the earth and the place his music holds in it is ever
evident. Talking of change, he takes shifts gears and has what could well
be a dance cross-over hit called Change, with its gritty celtic-driven
backbeat and hypnotic vocal.
The production and instrumentation of the record is right in line with
the vibrant and resonant sound that is so synonymous with Luka's music and
features stellar performances from Kenneth Edge on the hauntingly beautiful
call of a Muezzin on Lebanon, and the graceful fiddle of Yvonne Casey on
Star of Doolin. The contrast of the synthesizers and keyboards that
Simon O'Reilly brings to the table make for a heady musical banquet that is
satisfying and refreshing throughout.
db Magazine - Issue 409 - April 4-18, 2007
Luka Bloom - Tribe
Irish singer, songwriter and frequent visitor to Australian shores Luka Bloom
returns with his new album, the release of which coincided with his recently
concluded Australian tour.
'Tribe' is largely a collaboration with Simon O'Reilly, a noted composer
and producer of film scores and instrumental music, with some additional guest
musicians. O'Reilly recorded the majority of the music to which Bloom added
lyrics and vocal melodies. Apparently not once did the two of them sit down
and play together in the same studio.
So what's it like? Well, it's quite good. Sort of. Okay, I guess. I know that's
being totally indecisive and non-committal, but even after repeated listens
I'm still not convinced that this is one of Bloom's better releases. It seems
to me that despite his best efforts, Bloom's singing and lyrics don't always
quite gel or seem just out of step with O'Reilly's music.
This is evident on Dead Of Night and Lebanon. Not bad songs
by any means, but Bloom's earthy, lilting Irish voice and often-political lyrics do
seem at odds with the subdued, World-flavoured music supplied by O'Reilly.
That said there are some wonderful moments on 'Tribe'. Out There
sees the music and words come together in a beautiful, wistful lament.
Homeless is a terrific, topical and amusing spoken word piece
over an unobtrusive ambient musical background that sees Bloom musing
on how a homeless person he came across in Hollywood could in fact be
the model environmental citizen.
There are three instrumentals on offer, of which Star Of Doolin is
probably the standout. All demonstrate the quality of O'Reilly's compositions
and stand up well in their own right.
There is no such thing as a bad Luka Bloom album, and he is to be
congratulated on coming up with a unique and adventurous recording.
Maybe the next collaboration with O'Reilly will see them come together
in the same studio and produce something truly stunning.
The Epoch Times Ireland - August 09, 2007
Music Review: Luka Bloom, 'Tribe'
Dalai Lama quote inspires Irish singer
Irish singer/songwriter Luka Bloom's latest release Tribe is a perfect driving disc. Not the driving,
head-bobbing kind - but the nice, overcast drive through the hill country kind. Melodic and
thoughtful, Tribe is a new foray for Bloom.
Known for his wry wit and a penchant for quirky cover tunes such as ABBA's "Dancing
Queen", Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic", and LL Cool J's "I Need Love",
Bloom's Tribe has nary a sideways glance save for "Homeless". This track,
in a spoken-word style and with one well-placed expletive, gives us a taste of the
inner workings of Bloom's mind. Funny and poignant, "Homeless" has some
memorable lines like "…his carbon dioxide emissions are pretty much zero… this
homeless man in Hollywood is a model urban citizen."
Homeless aside, the rest of the disc is full of reflective tunes where Bloom's lyrical
abilities shine. Normally a one-man music machine (writing lyrics, composing, and
playing), Bloom shares credit for Tribe with producer and co-writer Simon O'Reilly.
In 2005, Bloom was sent a copy of O'Reilly's instrumental release Tide Lines. He recalls:
"It [was] a lovely record, but I immediately was intrigued with the possibility that
Simon and I might do some work together… we hit it off. So over the next months
Simon created music and sounds, and posted them to me to my home in Kildare.
Not once did we sit and play together. I listened to Simon's sounds and created
lyrics and vocal melodies based on his music." This long-distance relationship
worked, and the resulting release has an understated beauty in its sparse
compositions and moody ambiance.
Bloom explains that the inspiration for the disc and especially the title track
comes from the Dalai Lama quote, "I hope that you at this moment will think
of yourself as a human being rather than as an American, Asian, European,
African, or member of any particular country. These loyalties are secondary.
If you and I find common ground as human beings, we will communicate on
a basic level." This theme sets the tone for the rest of Tribe - including
track 2, "Sound", a plaintive track conjuring up chilly winter
days walking through a leafless garden.
"I am a River" pays homage to Bloom's native Ireland and
"Lebanon" is beautiful in its simplicity, a harmonious balance
of vocals and instrumentation with a message of hope in a country that's had its
share of strife. "Change" is the hidden gem on the disc,
showcasing Bloom's talent for lyrical phrasing. "Peace Rains"
is dreamy as his voice lilts and lulls us into a state of aural bliss. The disc is rounded
out with two tasteful instrumentals with Celtic flair.
Overall, Tribe is a little melancholy but has an underlying feeling of
optimism and seems like a moment of clarity for the maturing Bloom.
Tribe never really gets out of third gear, but sometimes that's all you
need for a nice drive through the countryside.
The Irish Times - The Ticket - Friday, September 07, 2007
* * * *
LUKA BLOOM - Tribe
Big Sky Records
I've never really gotten used to the name change - he'll always be
Barry Moore to me - but Luka Bloom has never been short of bottle
or imagination. That said, his new album pushes the boat out and
is all the better for it. He and Clare musician Simon O'Reilly agreed
to work together after Bloom heard O'Reilly's instrumental work
Tidelines in 2005. Fast-forward to David Odlum's studio in France,
and Bloom and O'Reilly meet to produce Tribe, a collaboration that
stretches both artists. O'Reilly's moody electronic settings, redolent
of The Blue Nile, provide a new canvass for Bloom's warm voice
and his concerned and self-explorative lyrics. Bloom certainly
rises to the challenge. Yes, it is occasionally overly self-conscious
and even a tad awkward at times, but mostly there is a lovely
late-evening tone to these 12 pieces. www.lukabloom.com
Hot Press - Album Reviews - 21 September 2007
Luka Bloom - Tribe
While some of his singer songwriter rivals seem to have lost their edge,
Luka Bloom continues to craft richly literate albums that make little or no
concessions to vulgar commerciality. That inventiveness can stretch to
backward tapes, as on the wistfully searching title track of his latest, on
which Bloom's voice is appropriately restrained on as righteous a song
against nationalism as you are ever likely to hear. Sound evokes autumn
changing into winter, while Out There provides a gentle contrast with some
of his more pointed lyrics. I am a River is a faithful take on a slightly
hackneyed theme. Homeless is a Ginsberg-esque spoken paean to a
man in California with thoughtful environmental overtones. Star of Doolin
has charming fiddle from Yvonne Casey, while Change merges an
infectious Celtic folk beat and mesmeric vocals to marvellous effect.
Lebanon is just plain sad.
Bloom is partnered on this album by Simon O'Reilly a
multi-instrumentalist-cum-producer from Clare and their work blends so well
its impossible to see the join. The interweaving of synths with Bloom's usual
musical palette means that he rarely strays too far from his musical roots,
and yet he never lets them prevent him reaching out towards other cultures.
It's even more remarkable to accept that the entire set was recorded without
them ever sitting down together.
Bloom has never made a dud album, and on the form displayed here, that's not
likely to happen anytime soon.
Rating: 8 / 10
Connacht Tribune - Friday, September 21, 2007
LUKA BLOOM - Tribe
Big Sky Records
Luka Bloom has been releasing albums for nearly two decades, his
unmistakeable sound making it difficult to compare him with anyone else.
His guitar style could be described as electro-acoustic, came about
when tendonitis forced him to swap fingerpicking style for his distinctive
strumming. Bloom is a live performer of unique talent, a consistently
His latest album TRIBE is a collaboration with Simon O'Reilly, a Clare based
contemporary music writer. In 2005 Bloom heard O'Reilly's album TIDELINES
and was so impressed by the instrumental compositions that he approached
the Clare man with the idea of working together.
The resulting record is a beguiling collection of songs and soundscapes.
TRIBE opens with the winning title track. O'Reilly's delicate music is
matched by Bloom's heartfelt singing and insightful lyrics.
Joyce lies in Zurich, Beckett lies in France, What anthem has the tune to
their dance, Who is my tribe is it only green, Or is it in a rainbow of my
dreams? wonders Bloom.
Sound follows and the signs are already good for this collaboration.
TRIBE is not the worlds of electronica and folk colliding but more a fruitful
meaning of minds. Both Bloom's crystalline vocals and O'Reilly's subtle tones
are given room to breathe thanks to David Odlum, the former Frames
guitarist, who mixed the album. On the uplifting Change it sounds like
Massive Attack have relocated to Ireland. The song is driven by a grinding
bass line and Bloom's optimistic lyrics, Everytime I fall down it's a new
beginning, Trying to rise up, has more to love than winning, he sings.
O'Reilly contributes to instrumental numbers to Tribe - the cinematic
Early Morning and the album closer, Beara.
The freedom to experiment is relished on TRIBE, particularly on Homeless
where a homeless man leads Bloom to look inward. Men like him literally walk
the line, he says, and men like me - well, we talk a good talk.
TRIBE is a bold album that deserves attention.
Green Man Review - Album Reviews - October 07, 2007
Luka Bloom, Tribe
(Big Sky, 2007)
Tribe is effectively a collaboration between Luka Bloom and
Irish muliti-instrumentalist Simon O'Reilly. It is absolutely not
what I was expecting from a Luka Bloom album, at all! The
more traditional acoustic approach is ditched in favour of an
ethereal electro-acoustic production. Luka's vocals are not
nearly as prominent as on previous recordings, and certainly
less so than in his live performances -- instead he sings in
hushed, disembodied tones that are every bit as potent as
anything he's recorded before. Sounding about as relaxed
as can be possible in a recording studio, Luka soothes and
seduces his way throughout all 12 tracks alongside O'Reilly's
mesmerising musical creations.
Though Luka's vocals may be more subdued, his lyrics are
as powerful and insightful as ever. The title track mulls over
patriotism, with Luka ultimately deciding that his "tribe"
is wherever he is and not confined to his birthplace, or any
particular place for that matter: "Home's a place inside
I take with me / I meet my tribe wherever I may be."
The present situation in Lebanon is also subjected to Luka's
thoughtful musings, as he homes in on the weariness of
a nation caught up in one bloody conflict after another;
"Every generation has seen these wars before / caught
between a rock and a hard, hard place."
"Homeless" is a spoken piece, set
over a disjointed arrangement with a late-night feel,
that finds Luka comparing his own environmental footprint
with that of a homeless man in Hollywood, as he ponders
who might be the "model urban citizen".
These two thought-provoking songs offer very different
takes on the subject of home. Two sublime instrumental tracks
provide further calming vibes and a wonderful opportunity
to totally lose yourself in the enchanting ambience.
Tribe has the potential to reach out to a whole new audience,
whilst providing a real treat for those already converted. With
Tribe, Luka has made a recording that is layered like an onion --
no, really! Divine layers of sound intertwine to create the most
magnificently reflective soundscapes, and each listen reveals
a different exquisite layer to entice and delight the listener.
It will surely prove an indispensable addition to Luka's already
remarkable canon, and doubtless an indispensable addition
to many a record collection around the globe.
Rhythms of Redemption - October 11, 2007
LUKA BLOOM - TRIBE
For some time Luka Bloom has been coming across as a musical
John O’Donohue with spiritually reflective songs that gathers up
the mysticism of rural Irish life. Where his brother Christy is more
likely to be singing about Dublin city’s hustle and bustle, greed,
tragedy and injustice, Bloom drives us off to the bog land to
find solace and refreshing and insight and hopefulness. Tribe
is a collaboration with Clare instrumentalist Simon O’Reilly and
finds the distinctive guitar sound of Bloom giving way to
sound-scapes and atmospheric moods which dress up the
lyrical imagery of lambs seeking nipples, swallows flying home,
boots on spades or trails of worms. Yes, the greed of Dublin
is concerned upon but what we mostly find is Seamus Heaney’s
rural poetry married to John O'Donohue’s post-Catholic spirituality
wrapped up in Blue Nile moods. It is a thinking person’s music
and from its rural Irish roots finds itself doing some travelling
as it finds Yeats buried in Zurich, a little girl laughing in the
midst of Lebanon’s tragedy and a homeless man in LA sharing
in his carbon footprint a message for the world. Bloom’s
songwriting ability has never been doubted and he has
been consistent in his album releases but Tribe is his most
rounded and mature work to date.
Uptown Magazine - Winnipeg's Online Source for Arts, Entertainment & News - October 4, 2007
Luka Bloom - Tribe
(Cooking Vinyl Records)
There is something about certain Irish singer/songwriters that puts them
a pint of Guinness ahead of most of their contemporaries and Luka Bloom
is no exception. Tribe is the kind of album that makes you feel as if nearly
all the songs are an insight into your deepest, personal thoughts. Bloom
sings with honesty and skillfulness that is pervasive in its emotionalism
without sounding mannered - and his understanding of the human
condition in general raises him to a level that is practically without peer.
County Times - Welshpool, Powys - CD Reviews - October 18, 2007
"TRIBE", by LUKA BLOOM
on Big Sky Records
Irish singer songwriter Barry Moore made three albums under his real
name before seeking a new life in the United States adopting the name
Luka Bloom for another 10 original albums.
Tendonitus gave him a distinctive guitar strumming style, he has worked with
the likes of Lou Reed and his new album has been made in collaboration with
Irish multi instrumentalist Simon O'Reilly. Simon created the music and sounds
while Luka added lyrics and vocal melodies. The opening track establishes the
gentle hazy vibe that runs through. "Dead of Night"
takes things back to a moody Dublin for one of the best songs, while
"Lebanon" is a lament to a lost land.
Pedal steel hero BJ Cole also helps on a couple of the 12 tracks that include
The strongest and wordiest song is "Homeless" about being
homeless in Hollywood and about global warming.
Kilkenny Advertiser - The Week - November 1, 2007
Luka blooms with new album - Tribe
There are some albums that are simply worth waiting for and Luka Bloom's
newest creation - Tribe is one of those.
This is an album with a difference, as it is a joint collaboration between
Luka Bloom and contemporary music writer, Simon O'Reilly. There are many
subtle music styles in this creation that make this album different from
anything that Luka has done before.
Clare-based O' Reilly sent Luka Bloom a copy of Tidelines - an album of
original instrumental music composed and recorded by himself. It features
orchestral pieces of seascape-style tunes and sounds. Mix this with the
dulcet tones and soulful lyrics of Luka and you truly have a magical album.
Tribe does not venture too far from home in other ways however, and Luka's
traditional style is still evident particularly in traditional instrumental pieces
such as 'The Star of Doolin'.
'Homeless man in Hollywood' is an evocative spoken piece over an O'Reilly
contemporary musical score. It is a particularly moving song which tells
of a homeless man who lives life without leaving a single carbon footprint
in his wake.
Luka Bloom's haunting lyrics are a staple of all of his work and this has not
changed with this album. The honesty and sincerity that stems from this
album is striking. Luka Bloom has always been true to himself and his
music really does encapsulate his personality in many ways.
This album moves at a slower and more peaceful pace than some of Luka's
previous albums, however, it is enchanting and heavily littered with the
strong lyrics and stories that we have grown to expect from Luka and love.
Simon O' Reilly created all the music and sounds for this album with Luka
simply providing the lyrics and vocals. When sent Simon's compositions,
Luka then created the lyrics and vocals based on what he heard and
he send them back to Simon. Neither of them ever sat or performed
together during the making of this album!
Luka is touring Europe this autumn and winter and hopefully he will see
fit to pop back into his old haunt of Cleeres along the way. I for one would
certainly love to hear this album live. Luka fans will not be disappointed!
NAOISE O'DONOVAN COOGAN
Basic Soul: Music Reviews - November 2007
Luka Bloom - Tribe
Good new album from Luka, which sees him collaborating with Simon O’Reilly,
who also produces. Tribe reflects Luka’s roots and has an overall relaxed feel
but is not without a bit of bite where it’s needed. Excellent collection of
musicians helping out as well including BJ Cole, Elmear O’Grady and Robbie Perry.
Irish Voice - Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Luka’s Oldie But Goodie
"You don’t want to write about that," wrote Luka Bloom in an
e-mail when I asked him for an interview on Tribe, the album he released
a few years ago that has finally made its debut online over here.
"I’m already onto other things. I’m just mixing a new album in New
York, so let’s save up the ink for that!"
Fair enough, but when you are as talented as Luka Bloom and incapable
of recording a dud album, a music critic will never have a shortage of ink
in which to sing your praises. Besides, Tribe is an album that everyone
should know about, so consider this review a community service!
"Every time I fall it’s a new beginning," he reasons on
"Change". Anyone who has followed his career lately
knows that Bloom’s lyric has become a way of life for him.
Tribe is unlike anything Bloom has ever recorded. The lyrics and vocal
deliveries are quiet affairs, and they are blended with bleak atmospheric
The soundscape is reminiscent of the spooky atmospherics that producer
Daniel Lanois throws into the mix on U2’s ballads. Metal picks screech
across electric guitar strings to create the feel of backing vocals.
Gentle electronica percolates in the background. Pedal steel guitars
blend with drowsy guitar chords as the singer whispers his prose.
Tribe delivers a consistent mood from start to finish that is equal parts
mellow and restless at the same time.
"I am a river passing through/this is what we do/standing on a corner
of a Dublin street/staring at a sea of busy little feet/going about our
business, push push shove/hoping in our lifetime we’ll find and be in
love," Bloom sings on "I Am a River" as a watery,
echoed guitar plays in the background.
On "Lebanon", he sings over a frisky clarinet, electronic
jabs, and a supple standup bass of a land with "blood stained footsteps
in the shifting sand" that has a lot in common with Northern
Ireland, with "every generation seeing these wars before, caught
between a rock and a hard, hard place."
One of the most striking musical moments on Tribe is "Homeless",
a spoken word piece about the singer’s encounter with someone less
fortunate than him during a trip to California.
"It was a homeless man who got me thinking/I felt the usual
mix of sorrow for him and the anger for a society that makes a man
live like this," he begins in a smoky, sexy delivery that would
give Liam Neeson a run for his money.
You sort of roll your eyes at first, thinking this is yet another folkie
rallying against the "haves" on behalf of the "have
nots". Luka then throws the listener a curveball by turning
the critical eye on himself.
"It struck me that in a crazy world, there was a man who drives
no car, heats no home, in a time of global warming, his carbon emissions
are pretty much zero, he says.
"It struck me that this homeless man from Hollywood is the model
urban citizen. I on the other hand live this life of good intentions; I travel
the world and try to be aware of the earth. On the road, I drive every
day, I fly every day, and heat my home. If all men lived like me, we’d
need four planets to keep it all together."
According to Bloom, the idea for this diverse album came about after
he was sent a copy of Tidelines, an album of original instrumental
music composed and recorded by Simon O’Reilly.
Bloom explains, "It’s a lovely record, but I immediately was intrigued
ith the possibility that Simon and I might do some work together.
I visited Simon’s studio in Clare, and we hit it off. So over the next
months, Simon created music and sounds, and posted them to me
to my home in Kildare.
Not once did we sit and play together. I listened to Simon’s sounds
and created lyrics and vocal melodies based on his music. After about
six months, we felt we had enough material to make a record."
Bloom invited David Odlum, an in-demand engineer for the likes of the
Frames and Gemma Hayes, to mix the disc and record the vocals.
"I play guitar on only two tracks," he reports. "For
once in my working life I got to simply be a singer."
Tribe is yet another interesting musical departure for Christy Moore’s
younger brother in a decade that has had its share of them.