Luke Concannon returns with a solo album with an enigmatic title that sways between the emotions
Release date: 5th February 2021
Label: The Movement
Format: DL / CD / vinyl
He’s experienced a few highs in his career has Luke Concannon. Boasting a #1 hit single with hip hop folk outfit Nizlopi (you MUST remember The JCB Song?) is up there as must be being namechecked with Van Morrison as one of Ed Sheeran’s main influences. For the record, Luke returns the favour – sort of – by mentioning the fact in Doing Nothing At All.
It’s those high points that contrast with some harder times, the light and the dark, which have fed into the new songs. Written while staying with American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, the focus is on what gives the album its title – the wonderful ecstasy of being alive while being part of a world that’s intent on destruction. Maybe not so dramatic, but a burning world that’s smouldering ominously. A contrast between hope and despair, anger and love.
Although it may say Luke Concannon on the cover and his name is the one in the songwriting credits, Ecstatic Bird In The Burning is far from being a solo effort. The likes of John Parker and Michael K Harrist on double bass and Grant Smith’s drums add depth while Stephanie Hollenberg (Mrs Concannon) and Hannah Meloy come up with some angelic harmonies. Mandolin and horns make sure there are subtle sprinklings of texture and make the ten tracks a varied experience.
Take the opening pair for example. Absolutement hits an immediate groove, rapping on the “are you ready to swing/fly/die/wake/break…etc” channel while Your Heart Is In My Chest opens with an acapella spiritual and is saturated with a soulful delivery. Despite the earworm that has me changing the repetition of the former song title to “pass the loo roll” (sorry…) it might fly in the face of anyone daring to hold any expectations. Perhaps living up more to expectation is the delightful acoustic Hummingbird. What might appear to be some noodling becomes a pastoral interlude that could easily be on a folk-rock Tull album – that sort of ballpark. It’s the “elegance beckoning” that he sings of in Your Heart….
Just on the edge of deep dark spiritual blues is the tremendous It Won’t Wait that paints a picture of something ominous and impending, particularly when the lyric is accompanied by the floating drone in the opening part of the track. Along similar lines is the drama of Coventry – “it’s like Coventry in 1940” – that flits between past and present.
Never too far from an insightful lyric be it in the form of something that digs into the deeply personal, an observation on society usually delivered with a vocal glistening with soul. Feel You In My Arms brings to mind Paul Young (fellow #I hit parader). The easy vibe that runs through the mateiral only tells half the story.
A little like The Beatles’ In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make, the final words on Join The Liberation remind us that “There is an answer, There is an end, The world waits for your laughter, And I wanna be your friend.” Saving the best till last. Amen to that.
Listen to Your Heart Is In My Chest here: