Although previously pursuing a solo path associated with a more restrained countrified sound, Pieces not only marks a big stride forward, sonically speaking, but reunites him with the incendiary roots rock of his earlier days as a member of The Whybirds. As Luke explains, “ My first two records where made whilst The Whybirds were still active, and so I felt it was important for them to be sonically separate from the band.” With his formative band no longer a going concern and perhaps inspired by the fresh start of a relocation to New York, he comes out all guns…not to mention guitars…blazing.
Based around a core of rock driven songs with a few acoustic numbers just to not break all continuity with the sound of the last two albums, Pieces transcends the expected generic restraints, no matter how many words like post- or alt- you put in front of country, folk or roots labels and heads straight into Neil Young or Tom Petty’s territory of heartland rock. The Mf Blues is a suitable sweary and ragged bar room stomp, Requiem is a brooding dystopian rock workout and Batten Down The Hatches would give The Boss, that’s Mr Springsteen to you, a run for his money.
The deft and more delicate acoustic pieces such as Charing Cross and Ghosts offer some wonderful breathing space, just enough of a pause that the album doesn’t become too full on, though with Luke’s clever use of melody and dynamics even in his most stadium and (Gaslight) anthemic moments, the songs remain engaging rather than merely powerful. The title track being a good example of this, a clever blend of loud sing-along choruses and gentle verses and a sonic journey that builds in intensity and infectiousness as it travels to its final destination.
So it’s both a fresh start and a return to the past, music inspired by largely American icons finding its way back home, an album that can be big, blustering and full of bravado, whilst also able to be smooth and soothing. To be honest I can’t think of much he has missed out. Good work sir.