Luka Bloom » Album Reviews
Luka Bloom - Frugalisto
Frugalisto David Donohue
The Irish Times
Irish Examiner
Hot Press Magazine
Readings Carlton

LUKA BLOOM - Frúgalisto
(BigSky Records)

Last year I watched Luka Bloom from backstage stage as he played his new song, 'Australia' to a captivated audience in the town hall, Thomastown. To watch from there was to glimpse both the audience and the man responsible for their communal engagement in one snapshot – to witness the ‘deal’.

On stage was a man pouring out his heart in a love song as profound and direct as the classic 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. The audience had never heard the song before. From the opening line, ‘Three years is a long long time to miss someone you love,’ to the final word of the chorus, ‘Australia', the longing inflicted by the twin obstacles of time and distance on a love profound was felt by everybody in the crowd who had ever felt. If the flood waters which recently destroyed this beautiful hall had risen at that moment, they would have found their entry barred by the forcefield of communion between the truth teller and those who know that it’s the truth.

I’m always happy if a collection of songs boasts even one great song because a great song can lift a record in the same way that Luka lifted the room that night. But Luka’s new album, Frúgalisto has more ‘classic’ soul to bare and more love to share than the haunting Australia.

Warrior asks the fighter to ‘be easier on yourself’. It’s almost all that ever needs to be said about war and the war monger marching toward the inevitable death of his own soul.

The January Blues breezes along until it catches, and celebrates ‘the cold wind blowing through the night into the light of day.’

No Fear Here reaches out to the ‘wounded and abandoned little Irish boys and girls’ with the words, ‘I want to build a home you want to come back to.’

Oh Sahara maps a journey from loves of the past to the acceptance that must come with age for peace to pervade the heart. ‘The love that Sabina gave me was to help me be alone.’ It’s shudderingly beautiful.

Isabelle and Lowland Brothers take us from the untainted nature of pre-war Flanders to the same landscape tainted with ‘blood and mud the screaming...’. Lowland Brothers ends with the pained plea, ‘hold my hand and promise me this will never happen again.’

Luka’s is a life lived through words carried by melodies given life by a frighteningly generous heart. His path is, as he says in ‘Oh Sahara’ the song of man.

A song written over forty years ago, Wave Up To The Shore, is the perfect bookend for Frúgalisto. Here, a teenage Luka, fearing the loss of all things earthly, is numbed by the reality of the gravity of decay.

It’s like an acknowledgement, an end of movie ‘credit’ for a journey in song that ultimately spawns acceptance of ‘what has been and gone’ while offering continuing gratitude for what is - the Burren landscape of his current home, to the delights of giving it a go on a surfboard, the joys of cycling into town for a hot pot of coffee or tea.


The Irish Times - The Ticket - CD Reviews Rock/Pop - Thursday, April 7, 2016

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LUKA BLOOM: Frúgalisto - less is more, in this case a lot more

The challenge of retaining a vitality, of mining fresh seams, is one that faces all artists with the gumption to cleave to the long road.

Luka Bloom is on intimate terms with that challenge, and how he relishes every mile on Frúgalisto. Less is more is the pervasive theme of this collection and in many ways it marks the apotheosis of Bloom’s search for solace within.

All the big themes are here – consumerism, love, death, war – shot through with a refreshing humour that leavens the tone beautifully.

It’s in the production, too, that Frúgalisto shimmers, with fittingly expansive and then bare-boned arrangements buffering songs to come home to again and again. Flute, fiddle, banjo, percussion and a magnificently funereal trombone add heft and buoyancy to what is one of Bloom’s finest collections.


Irish Examiner - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(BigSky Records)

Luka Bloom’s new album was recorded at Lettercollum House in Timoleague.

In a way, Frugalisto, Luka Bloom’s latest album, has been 45 years in the making.
Its closing track, ‘Wave Up To The Shore’, recorded by his brother Christy Moore on his 1976 self-titled ‘Black Album’, was the first track Bloom wrote, in 1971, that he decided "wasn’t shit". It was inspired by his English teacher at Newbridge College, Pat Colgan, and his now wife, Margaret, who had encouraged him to be creative and write.

"Yet every time I've recorded an album since I wrote it, I've attempted to record it but it never seems to come together. As a result of that I worried I'd never get to record it," says Bloom, declaring he is grateful to Christy for recording it because otherwise it might have been forgotten forever.

"But it's been like a beacon of light in the background of my life for many, many years. When I was in Lettercollum House it emerged again and I got to sing it with my nephew, Gavin, who lives in Timoleague. I'm just so happy that that song made it onto a record, for me it's a perfect ending to the record."

Bloom says Gavin Moore helped reinvigorate the song - and that theme of rejuvenation runs right through Frugalisto.

Bloom moved to Doolin, Co Clare, in 2012.... The Moy Hill Community Garden, near Lahinch, has inspired him, as has its head honcho, former Irish surf champion, Fergal Smith...... Though Frugalisto was inspired by a new life in Clare, it came alive in West Cork.

Recorded by John Fitzgerald ("a remarkable man") in Lettercollum House in Timoleague, it features a host of local legends, like the aforementioned Gavin Moore, Bill Shanley, Jimmy Higgins, and Paula K O’Brien....

From the gorgeous tones of the lovelorn ‘Australia’, through the ridiculous fun of ‘Give It a Go’ (which sees a middle-aged man who may or may not be Bloom decide to pick up a surfboard because “the waves are calling me”) and ‘Warrior’, which one can read as a continuation of the title track or, as Bloom confides, an antidote to mixed martial arts - "I just can't see any way that any of this could be in any way good for any part of society", Frugalisto is an affecting listen.

Review Extract from Article in the Irish Examiner

HotPress - Music Review/Album: 18 May 2016

(Big Sky Records)

Irish folk legend at the top of his game

It’s hard to believe that the one time Barry Moore has been recording and touring for over 40 years now. But the still fresh-faced Luka Bloom clearly relishes the process of making music. His latest album is the kind of record we’ve come to expect from the Newbridge troubadour – thought-provoking acoustic songs sung with heart and soul – only better. It’s exquisitely produced and arranged too, with a small team of musicians, including Cork’s Bill Shanley.

Many of the songs are inspired by Bloom’s recent move to County Clare, including the dark midwinter sentiments of ‘January Blues’ – a gentle, keening ballad sung over a soft shuffle. ‘Give It A Go’ takes a wry look at his attempts at surfing in late middle-age, while elsewhere, ‘Australia’ is a lovely homage to the country Bloom often describes as his second home.

Tragedy and innocence are the respective themes of ‘Lowland Brothers’ – inspired by the young Irishmen who fought in WW1 – and ‘Isabelle’, about a young girl playing in the fields of Flanders oblivious to the horrors of war. One of the most poignant and heartfelt songs is ‘Berkeley Lullaby’, about the tragic deaths of six young Irish students in the Northern Californian town last year. Elsewhere, a song Bloom wrote in 1972, ‘Wave Up To The Shore’ (once recorded by his brother, Christy Moore), is a further highlight of this excellent collection. A must listen for fans of great Irish music – and one for Irish radio to play...

Rating: 7/10

Readings Carlton - Album Reviews - April 2016

(BigSky Records)

Frugalisto is a collection of wonderfully diverse new songs and recordings from one of the most important singer songwriters Ireland has produced.

Luka Bloom as always writes and performs about aspects of life that affect us all and on Frugalisto takes us many places we have not been before.

© Rena Bergholz - Luka Bloom Page