"This New Morning" by Luka Bloom
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: August 16, 2012
CD REVIEW: Luka Bloom – This New Morning (BigSky Records) 2012
It’s hard to believe but it has been 22 years since I (and many others) learned about Irish folk singer Luka Bloom (born Barry Moore and taking his first name from a Suzanne Vega song about domestic abuse and his last name from Leopold Bloom, the long-suffering hero of James Joyce’s classic Ulysses), the brother of Irish folk singer Christy Moore.
Yeah, it was 1990 and Top 40 radio would play a folk-pop tune from time-to-time. Story-songs were still popular (remember Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”?) and Bloom, brimming with Celtic soul, was warmly embraced in the U.S. with his major-label debut Riverside and the loving ode to his late father “The Man Is Alive.”
Since then, Bloom has released a series of solid, acoustic-flavored albums (The Acoustic Motorbike and Between the Mountain and The Moon among the best) that reflect his positive outlook, loving skepticism and earthy honesty. With his latest album, This New Morning, Bloom sounds as confident and creative as ever.
While the arrangements on a number of the songs are full and band-like, Bloom kicks things off with “How Am I To Be?,” a song that would fit in well with his Greenwich Village coffeehouse and Dublin roots.
In 2011, when Queen Elizabeth II visited the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin and bowed before a monument remembering fallen Irish heroes, Bloom was not only inspired, he was full of hope that old wounds were beginning to heal and thusly, he wrote and recorded “A Seed Was Sown.”
There is a decidedly melancholy feel to “Capture a Dream” and an urgency to “The Race Runs Me,” which has an almost flamenco feel to it. Bloom gets assistance from guitarist Steve Cooney on this one and a number of other songs on this record, including the dream-like “Riverdays,” which is enhanced with traditional Irish folk instrumentation and light orchestral flourishes.
Bloom addresses an environmental issue on “Across the Breeze.” However, it’s not what you think. Burning peat is being banned in Ireland and with it will come an end to a tradition that has been around for centuries on the Emerald Isle. Bloom’s take is from more of a call for taking tradition into account.
In the tradition of fellow socially-conscious folkie Bruce Cockburn, Bloom addresses the destructive and radioactive horror that struck Japan and specifically the Fukushima prefecture. The song, “Gaman,” which is Japanese for “endusing the unendurable,” is a modern-day story that is still ongoing, as I write this. It is a haunting track, complete with flute and bells and makes one think of those still suffering from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, a year-and-a-half later.
Some songs highlight Bloom’s lyrics and delivery. I point to the anti-suicide track “You Survive” and the line “So this new morning / Trust in your heart / And know that your life / Is your great work of art.”
Armed only with his voice and a fiddle for accompaniment, Bloom’s “Your Little Wings” will bring tears to your eyes and he sings of the young women who wander in his hometown on a late Friday night after boozing and smoking and drunk out of their minds. He worries about these young women, saying that if he could protect the m from the world, he would. It’s a raw and heartfelt track.
Reminding me of John Denver or Gordon Lightfoot, Bloom takes a decidedly upbeat and chillbump-inducing turn on the exquisite “Heart Man.”
Sings Bloom on “Heart Man”: “I know a man whose religion / Is just to give / It’s how he learns to live / Walking with the poor / He’s on solid ground / For sure”
It’s not only the strongest track on This New Morning, it’s arguably one of the best songs of 2012.
One of the last songs is “The Ride.” If there was ever a song that promoted bicycling for fun and health, this joyful song is it. “Poetry in motion,” indeed!
This New Morning is the sort of album that gives me new hope that real, honest, raw and beautiful music will endure. Thank you, Luka Bloom.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report