Hot Press Magazine - 20 July 2020
Album Review: Luka Bloom, Bittersweet Crimson
Mr Bloom's 22nd album has been trailed by 'The Beauty of Everyday Things',
a song highly redolent of Co. Clare. It's adorned by the magical guitar
of Steve Cooney, while Sligo woman Niamh Farrell's silken voice, added
remotely, nicely counters Bloom's rugged, outdoors-y tones. It also
reminds one of 'Only A Woman's Heart'.
That sense of the outdoors is all over 'The Day The Great Oak Fell' too,
with its plangent guitar and Bloom's voice at its most delicate. It's
another reminder of Bloom's captivating scene-painter and wordsmith.
There's a light jauntiness to 'Can We Stay', a touching love song,
while the album's title-track has an almost baroque feel.
'Who Will Heal The Land' confronts a global question made even more
urgent by the pandemonium of the pandemic. Farrell adds a spectral
dimension to a wistful song that looks anxiously towards the future,
'The Hunger' can't but remind us of a past pandemic of a different kind.
It also comes with some plaintive fiddle from Adam Shapiro, and Bloom's
vocal occupies a space somewhere between Van and the rejuvenated Dylan.
The album ends with the measured optimism of 'Vision For 2020',
leavened by Shapiro's deft fiddle, Farrell's harmonies and Bloom's
vocal - rooted as always, in his native earth.
Bittersweet Crimson is out now - and available to order/download here www.lukabloom.com.
Enola Magazine - www.enola.be - 22 July 2020
Luka Bloom :: Bittersweet Crimson
Retired or not, Luka Bloom remains a productive worker. The number of
albums can no longer be counted at 2 hands, but the Irish bard thinks he
still has a lot to say. And so, just before the lockdown, and completely
unaware of what 2020 would bring, Bittersweet Crimson was recorded in Dublin.
Luka Bloom, still known at the registry office under the name Barry Moore,
had great success especially in the late 80s and early 90s. Riverside,
featuring the delicious 'Delirious' and 'Rescue Mission', is still so popular
in the Low Countries that Bloom had planned a spring tour. This tour has now
been postponed to the fall, but it remains to be seen if it can continue.
The Irish singer-songwriter also wanted to wait until after the pandemic
to release the album, but luckily changed his mind: because even though
Bittersweet Crimson contains the well-known ingredients of the man's oeuvre,
he has nevertheless managed to surprise with fresh arrangements and (sometimes)
light-hearted lyrics. And although it may sound a bit soft at first hearing,
the subtleties of the album are revealed many listenings later: the regret
on 'Can We Stay', the love for world music on 'Love To Mali', the
compassion for the fleeing fellow human beings on 'Front Door Key'.
Luka Bloom had the bright idea to surround himself with some musical friends
this time, and look, layer after layer the songs blossom: with violin, bazouki,
guitars and percussion. And that wonderful angelic voice of Niamh Farrell is
so powerful that she completely takes some songs, such as in title song
'Bittersweet Crimson'. Fun fact, by the way, so far Bloom and Farrell
haven't met, courtesy of Covid-19!
Bloom also honors his heroes, such as Seamus Heaney in 'The Day The Great Oak Fell,
and empathizes with his Australian friends in 'Who Will Heal The Land', whose
belongings went up in flames in early 2020. And the broken atmosphere / voice
in 'Front Door Key' makes people gasp. Just like in 'The Hunger', Luka Bloom
knows the most convincing if he does not sound too sweet, but does sound the
emotion and roughness through his voice. Anyone who can taste the latter song
should also listen to Bloom's cover of 'I Need Love', originally by LL Cool J.
Highly recommended that shows that music does not benefit from boxes.
And although Luka Bloom does not demolish those boxes with a sledgehammer, but
rather with persistence and a velvety voice, Bittersweet Crimson is recommended
for a quiet summer evening with a book and beer / wine. A support and help in
these special times.
The CD is only available through www.lukabloom.com, not from the local record
store or through streaming channels. That way, Luka Bloom wants all income to
go only to the people who contributed to the album.
KATHY VAN PETEGHEM
Review translated from Flemish
Read the original text here:
The Irish Times - Culture / Music - Friday, 24 July 2020
Luka Bloom: Bittersweet Crimson review - Plaintive pleasures
The utter joy in the ephemeral; the simplicity of life's pleasures:
Luka Bloom's 22nd album could hardly be more timely. It's as if it was
gestating just for this moment when life has wound itself down to a lope
(for some, at least). Bittersweet Crimson - recorded over two days in
Windmill Lane studios just before lockdown, and taking its title from
the Persian pomegranate - reaches wide and digs deep.
Reflections on the intimacy of old flames and friendship, on the wider
horizon, the usurping of Palestine's homeland and of the universality
of community (from west Clare to Timbuktu) preoccupy Bloom and fuel
this delicate collection. The songs are leavened by the attentive
trio of Jon O'Connell, Steve Cooney and Robbie Harris (with Niamh Farrell's
subtlest of backing vocals and Adam Shapiro's vital skeins of fiddle).
The languid pacing leaves ample space for multiple readings of Who Will Heal the Land
(though its kinship to his ode to Palestine in Front Door Key is tangible), and
its segue into a genteel reading of The Foggy Dew adds further resonance to what
is already a plaintive plea to bridge the disconnect between heart and head.
A Heaney tribute (The Day the Great Oak Fell) and The Hunger, a spoken-word
meditation on the life source that propels us onwards, are two more that linger long
after their final notes.
Respite and resilience in pristine balance.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Culture / Music - Friday, 14 August 2020
Luka Bloom - BITTERSWEET CRIMSON (lukabloom.com)
At his best (and he's in top form on this album), Luka Bloom is the equal of his legendary
folkie brother, Christy Moore. Listen to the gloriously evocative The Beauty of Everyday Things
and marvel at how a voice suffused with honesty and sincerity can turn a celebration of
"everyday things" into a deeply moving experience. Equally, the remarkable My Old Friend
the Oak Tree is so powerful and perfectly delivered that it becomes almost visceral.
This understated message about climate change and the need to love and celebrate the
ancient beauty of nature really makes you want to leap up and embrace a tree. Bloom
has been performing for more than 30 years (he's toured Australia 13 times) and yet,
because he is living in and feeding off Ireland's rich musical landscape, he still
sounds as fresh and passionate as if he picked up a guitar and started writing songs
yesterday. Every piece confirms there's no substitute for absorbing the richness
of a vibrant musical culture. Long after he revealed his rare talents with The
Acoustic Motorbike back in 1991, here's a demonstration of his enduring relevance
as a great Irish troubadour.
Irish Music Magazine - September 2020 Issue
LUKA BLOOM - BITTERSWEET CRIMSON
Three seconds in and you know instantly this is a Luka Bloom album. There is something
intangibly familiar, call it an accent or an attitude, yet again Luka has created another
classic album, his 22nd to date. His guitar playing is rich, the production bringing
out the velvet tone of his acoustic guitar, his voice mellow, in perfect tandem with
his playing. Three core players, Steve Cooney, Robbie Harris and Jon O’Connell join
Luka in the recording.
Recorded in two days in February in 2020 at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios.
It was very much a spontaneous affair, with the ensemble working their way into
the songs, which Luka had written over the preceding two years. Delicate touches
of post-production fiddle by Adam Shapiro. Niamh Farrell added her voice remotely
when the Covid 19 lockdown came into play, they finally met at the album Launch
in Doolin on August 8th.
Luka lives in Liscannor, almost as west as you can get in Clare, with the rest
of the country at his back, this perspective permeates a collection that is
considered and reflective, the album rooted in the everyday appreciation of what
we have right now, on the ground. There are two songs about oak trees, symbols
of longevity, witnesses to things that are only history to us, My Old Friend
the Oak Tree and The Day the Great Oak Fell, a tribute to Seamus Heaney,
written at the time of his passing. The melody of The Beauty of Everyday Things,
is easy going and catchy, he outshines this with the joyful simplicity of
Love to Mali. Who Will Heal the Land, is inspired by the Australian
wildfires of 2019 and early 2020; evocatively closing with The Foggy Dew,
fading to an echoed question, ‘could we heal the land’?
On the final track Vision for 2020 Luka sings, "hanging out with daydreams,
far from the bump and grind". It is a call for tea and conversation and the
simplicity of friendship, something that has become a longed for commodity as
we’ve become socially distanced.
Recently and very publicly Luka has railed against streaming services which
pay a pittance per track to the music makers. Consequently you can only get
the album directly from Luka – www.lukabloom.com
He and you will enjoy the personal touch; owning the album is owning a deeply
emotional and humane body of work.