Luke Temple - Snowbeast

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27 août 2007, 2h37m

It is very evident Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, Luke Temple, has worked hard, raising his game as it were, for his second album, Snowbeast. Where his debut, Hold A Match For A Gasoline World was suffused with sweet melancholic alt-country tones, his distinctive, almost plaintive, voice holding the listener's attention throughout, Snowbeast is a showcase of how far he has progressed since.



Snowbeast begins with one of the highlights of the album, Saturday People. The alt-country tones are still there, though now they are absorbed into a musical tour de force that would undoubtedly please Sufjan Stevens. There are many nods to the current king of , from choice of instruments to arrangement. Temple holds on to his love of 60s tight harmonies to create a gem of a track. Listening, I am also reminded of Scott Matthews's debut album, Passing Stranger, so rich is the music. Temple's voice takes on a quality only hinted at in his earlier work. Over and above everything else it is he who holds your attention. It's an usual and lovely thing, his voice. It's high, but masculine. Full of emotion, yet controlled. I don't think there is anyone else around to compare him with, quite honestly. I'd hesitate to mention Conor Oberst, though I know others will fall over themselves to do so. Conor Oberst is annoying. Luke Temple's voice is a delight.

The second highlight of the album is people do. The track begins with just Temple's voice and a guitar. It is slow, pure country/blues and a glorious drinking song. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. I really like Temple's voice in this song. I like how he holds back, it would be so easy to belt this out. Maybe he will in live performances.

The final track, Darkness, is deceptive. After being lulled into thinking perhaps you've heard the best tracks already, it comes as a pleasant surprise. It begins with Temple and just a drum with what sounds like rain in the background, then gradually, rhythms become more complex till eventually the whole thing spirals into psychedelia. He even waves cheerily at the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows along the way. Half way through, it changes tempo and softens into a gentle sway, fading into nothingness as the album ends.

Between these tracks, others fare less well. They are promising, but it does feel Temple is trying a little too hard. He isn't as relaxed as he was in Hold A Match For A Gasoline World. His tension and focus is barely disguised, which makes for demanding listening.

Snowbeast

http://www.myspace.com/luketemple
http://www.millpondrecords.com/
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