Luka Bloom – Dreams In America

(Big Sky/Shock)

3 stars

Irish troubadour Luka Bloom – Barry Moore to his nearest and dearest – has always had an appealingly melancholic streak. He’s not exactly in the same class in that respect as Nick Drake, the master of bucolic folk minstrelsy, but it would take a hard-hearted creature to be totally unmoved by the emotional resonance of his best songs and performances.

On this album, Bloom re-records some old songs 20-year career retrospective, of sorts; a revisitation that gives him the chance to improve on certain aspects he wasn’t fond of first time round, whether that be the recording, the performance, or even the occasional canny lyric rewrite.

It’s a solo acoustic recording that’s nicely recorded without being quite up to the standards an audiophile aspires to: the resonance of his acoustic guitar is a delight to the ears, although some engineers would have been able to extract a more detailed recording.

There is something inimitably Irish about Luka Bloom, though he avoids any obvious ploys to endear him to the home audience. It comes across more in the overt emotion with which he sings, which always seems honest, regardless of the setting.

Those who enjoy the ‘Unplugged’ approach will love this, and it’s capped off with three live performances featuring shimmering strings. GARY STEEL

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