Review of Luke Rathborne Album by Luke Rathborne

This offering from 22-year-old melancholic singer-songwriter Luke Rathborne opens with strummed acoustic guitar and synth string backings beneath Rathborne's strained yet entrancing vocals which combine elements of Eels' Mark Oliver Everett and songwriting great Bob Dylan. The track gradually builds with layers of instruments which flank the heartfelt lyrics, eventually charging into a catchy full band chorus. Sounding resemblance to indie folkers Hal and Gomez, 'Dog Years' then sounds a 6/8 country kind of feel which lilts out through a heartfelt ballad to close with a catchy sha la la refrain; already evidencing a great maturity in Luke Rathborne's songwriting. With a similarly slow and heart wrenching vibe to the track that preceded it, the piano and strummed guitar accompanied 'Pantomime Fear' is a gentle and down tempo track with a sombre and melancholic feel about it and later sounds a simple yet moving gesture of a guitar solo, later built up further with layers of subtle brass backings.

Luke Rathborne Luke Rathborne Album

'I Can Be One' grows from a lush, down tempo solo piano opening that's joined by the smooth and low rumble of a solitary cello, and Rathborne's smooth vocals are warmed by gentle suggestions of warmly whispered vocal harmonies. The track has a similar sombre feel to it, akin to the wonderfully moving music of singer songwriter Tom McRae, and gradually acquires a much deeper sound with rhythmic interjections of multipart vocal harmonies which butt in like a choral wall. Gentle and delicate with picked guitar and hints of subtle violin backings, 'Solon Town' is entrancing and beautiful in its' gentle passionate nature; the kind of sensitive and stunningly moving track that just makes you stop and let the sound wash over you. Again, the sound builds with more and more instruments towards its' close, with a gentle reduced orchestral sound from a small ensemble beneath Rathborne's singing.

It's much the same beautiful story for the close of the album; 'Sad Days' is string accompanied and slow in tempo with gently moving piano chords glimmering between a warming cello line and Rathborne's sensitive, higher pitched vocal. The track then moves into a powerful, string-led instrumental once again showcasing perfectly complementary orchestration alongside Rathborne's heartfelt song writing craft. The close of the album continues with string drenched strength, also with hints of a fuller ensemble complete with mellow and moving clarinet tones. Rathborne initially exposes a Dylan-esque roughness to his vocals but throughout the duration of this record, accompanied by lush arrangements, his vocals tone grows and enriches; stunning.

Hannah Spencer

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