You can always rely on David 9 Lunas to be able to deliver soulful and smooth vibes, songs which beautifully drift and glide, gently pulse with wonderful restraint and are cleverly woven. We knew that, but what makes Universal Joy so great is the lyrical component which more than matches such sweet and dexterous music. Across ten songs he explores a range of subjects from the personal to the universal. From the trials and tribulations of moving house to attempted government control, from mental health issues to spirituality, love, depression and even a fantastical aside inspired by the novels of Anne Rice.
I spend a lot of time moaning that music has forgotten that it has a self made platform, a place from which it can speak to a wide and attentive audience, but thankfully David has not forgotten. We are not talking about preaching, this isn’t a soapbox but if you have the opportunity to send a message out to the world then make it a poignant and important one. Universal Joy is just such a message, a series of thoughts and musical musings which hopefully will make people consider the world around them and the people who pass them on the street every day.
But it is a message, or a series of messages, wrapped up in some gorgeous music. In The Name of The Father comes from a very personal space but is universally relatable and the title track is a blissed iece of pop-soul and Movin ‘Ouse Blues is the light relief of the album, a breezy, bluesy knock along song with fun to the fore and tongue pushed firmly in cheek. It swoops and soars with lush strings, jingles with jaunty banjos, shimmers with acoustic picking and drips with soulful vocals.
Like Mushroom Tea from a couple of years ago, David 9 Lunas again shows his ability to wander through popular music genres – folk, soul, pop, blues, rock and country – tipping hats, referencing classic sounds, acknowledging past greats and using these sounds to build his own gentle, meticulously wrought but formidable musical identity. Music is sometimes deep and insightful, often it is accessible and infectious, rarely is it both. Universal Joy is one of those rare occasions.