Favorited ex.fm Songs

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Luke Redfield

I've touted the virtues of Daytrotter plenty of times before, but I don't see any reason to stop when it's the gift that just keeps giving. For those unfamiliar, Daytrotter is a website that brings bands into their studios and records really nice sounding 3-5 song sessions with them. The artists span plenty of genres (seriously... check out this long list). Some sessions are new versions of old songs, some include cover songs, and some are unreleased songs by the artist. Some of the artists are pretty well known (like Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, The Lumineers, and Trampled By Turtles) and some of the artists are less well known. The only real constant is that the music keeps coming, and you're sure to find something you like. For me, one of my favorite artists I've discovered by this means is Luke Redfield, courtesy of his Daytrotter session, which may just be my favorite Daytrotter session all year.

You can get a free 14 day membership to Daytrotter by visiting the site. This allows you to stream the 100's (1000's?) of sessions that they have archived and the new ones arriving every day. If you want to download them, you'll have to sign up for a membership, which I consider a steal for only $2 a month. In the hopes of encouraging others to check out the site, I'll give away one free year long membership to a reader of this post. Just send me an e-mail (nothemoonaintromantic@gmail.com) that includes your name and email address by 10pm central tonight (Wednesday 10/3), and I'll randomly pick one person to receive the free membership.

Onto Luke Redfield now. I don't listen to every Daytrotter session because there are so many, but for some reason I decided to check out Luke Redfield's. About 30 seconds into the first track, I knew I had made a good decision, and by the time the opening track had ended, I was a fan. That first track, "Toledo Ore," is a currently unreleased track that opens with guitar before the line "Landlocked today, dreaming of the sea, dreaming of the day you first came to me" brings the vocals into the mix. A little over a minute later, a harmonica makes it's first appearance in the song. From that point, the vocals, guitar, and harmonica deftly transition back and forth. Each element takes turns stealing the listener's attention away, only to have it taken back a few moments later. The song ends with a line just as great as the one it opened with, "It's hard to pretend that the world's gonna end when you're waiting for the world to begin." The second track, "Rebel Dreams" is another really strong track. It's a bit slower with a kind of wandering guitar sound out of which singular notes poke through here and there above the rest. The song recounts various events followed by the line "it don't compare to where I'm going." You can start to see that lyrics aren't just an afterthought for Redfield. They are well-crafted to reward close listening. In this song he sings "I've heard King's speeches, I heard Lennon's songs" before a couple lines later following that thought up with "Free at last, imagine that! It don't compare to where I'm going." Those types of references and tie backs are present in many of his songs. The rest of the session is similarly good, but what it really did was make me hungry for more of his music.

After the Daytrotter session, I began to explore his other albums and read a bit about him. His most recent album, Tusen Takk (Norwegian for 1,000 thank yous), was released back in March of this year. The harmonica is absent from this release, but the songs remain strong. Luke Redfield has traveled and lived all over (this interview has some good stuff about living in Alaska for a spell). Tusen Takk was recorded in 6 different states. Despite that, the album is remarkably cohesive, but it's not surprising that location is a strong theme across this album. In the song "Catacombs" he sings "Everywhere I go I call my home." That sentiment is felt across this record. Despite being recorded in many different states, and likely written across many as well, the one constant is that it always feels like home. Some artists have a knack for writing songs that just feel comfortable, calming, and familiar. Obviously this will be true of different artists for different people. For me, M. Ward is the king of writing songs that just make me feel at home within them no matter where I am. Luke Redfield manages to take songs about locations all over the world, as well as people past and present, and make them feel so natural and familiar.

The opening track to the record, "Don't Care," is almost like Redfield's PG version of William Elliott Whitmore's "Mutiny." Both tracks are nothing like the albums that follow them and feature defiant vocals over angry sounding percussion. The thick aura of defiance is felt in the title and in repeated lines like "I don't care what you do, I'm gonna sing my song." This is matched by the hard percussive beat and a cacophony of sounds that crescendo and fade towards the end. Following this is "Gilgamesh", one of my favorite tracks from the album. The song has a sense of urgency as if you're being driven forward the whole time. The lyrics repeatedly create fanciful scenarios beginning with an "if" and ending with some sort of description like "If I were a book, I'd contain 10 words: It is only life and life is for the birds". My favorite line showcases his sense of humor by saying "If I were a synth-pop, I'd be all the rage" highlighted by an auto-tune type effect on the vocals that you won't find elsewhere in his songs. Listen to it below:

Another album highlight is the track "Cowboy Song," which is the only track also on his Daytrotter session. The song seems to defy you to try to listen without tapping your foot along with it. I always love hearing artists pay tribute to artists they love, so lines like "And I will sing you cowboy songs like Ramblin' Jack and Townes Van Zandt" hook me. Here's a live performance:

I highly recommend heading to the Bandcamp link below and checking out the whole album for yourself (as well as his older stuff). Songs like "I Want Only" and "My Sweet Lass" are a bit reminiscent of Joshua Radin. Another of my favorites "Walk In Love" reminds me a bit of Ben Lee. There's a lot to like on Tusen Takk and on the Daytrotter session. Through a couple emails, Luke Redfield informed me that he's heading back into studio soon to record a new album (likely out in 2013) that will be more similar to the Daytrotter session (including harmonica on a few tracks and a bit more stripped-down and raw sound) than Tusen Takk. However the album turns out, as a newly converted fan, I'm looking forward to it.

If you're in the Midwest, he is currently touring through Nebraska, Colorado, and Minnesota. I haven't been able to see him live, but I recommend checking him out if he's in your neck of the woods. The full dates are on the tour poster below, which is a still from a recent music video shoot that should be out sometime this winter.

Interested in checking out Luke Redfield?

Artist website
Bandcamp - stream / purchase albums here
On Tour (contains a few more dates than the poster)

1 comment:

  1. Great piece on an interesting artist. Thanks for introducing me to his music! :)