Golconda is the moniker behind the solo work of singer-songwriter Luke Gullickson. His particular blend of folk music is influenced by Gullickson’s personal life experiences, including reading and traveling. He was particularly touched by his time spent working as a wilderness guide in New Mexico and by the work of cult author Cormac McCarthy. The latter was so influential for Gullickson, that he actually served as a source for Golconda’s brand new album, By these limits were they circumscribed and on them were they locus. This moving passage is a description of space, emptiness and introspection, and the sound captured by Golconda is a really fitting musical translation of these very emotions.
Luke managed to cut a desolate, minimal and fragile sound, only armed with his acoustic guitars and vocals. His work is close in spirit to that of folk pioneers like Woody Guthrie, although the melodic sensibility here is more modern and definitely more articulated, moving from typical folky chord patterns such as on the opener "FR 569 "to mesmerizing arpeggios and primitive handclap beats on songs like "El Prado Women". The second song on the album entitled "Milwaukee Blues" is extremely sparse yet oddly hypnotic. The cascading guitar picking is treated in such a way that I felt that my ear was about an inch away from the guitar. His voice sounded natural and also felt spontaneous in his delivery but not with his lyrical content. While the song could have benefitted from being a bit shorter it was the first song on the album that showed we have a gifted songwriter in our presence. "June 19" decided to forgo the guitar picking and instead opt for simple strumming and more in depth lyrical content. If not irresistibly catchy the song did excel because as you listen to it you get the sense you are in the room next to Luke watching him play.
This record truly echoes nature, with its appealing primitive approach: just a performer with his guitar and few other elements to adorn what is the most important element of it all – honest, heartfelt and meaningful lyrics.
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