With wide influences from big-name stars like Nirvana, Tom Waits and Jason Isbell, Luke Hogan is a 28-year-old singer/songwriter who recently gave up his full time job as a carpenter to move to California and pursue his own musical career. Nomad, his first recorded EP, is an introduction to his music, and is the appetizer for the full-length album that is currently in production. Hogan performs with his backup band The War Room.
The first song on the record “Enemy” features reverb-laced acoustic guitar alongside layered vocals provided by Hogan. The energy builds as the song progresses, and Hogan’s effortless singing brings a soothing, relaxed feel to the bright song. Occasional riffs on acoustic guitar bring an added flavor to the song, and the fullness of sound achieved by such a minimal amount of instrumentation is impressive.
A full-band sound arrives in “Neon” a driving song with a steady, light beat, pulsing guitar and bass, and throbbing vocals. Much is packed into this rather short tune and no note or beat is wasted. The album continues with “Rolling With the Dice” a softer, more melodic ballad that juxtaposes acoustic guitar with atmospheric electric guitar strumming. Hogan’s voice ties the other sounds in the song together, forming an enjoyable and cohesive soundscape.
“The Depths” features a pulsing rhythm driven primarily by bass guitar and percussion. Other instruments, such as acoustic guitar and keyboard, add complexity to the song and seem to float above Hogan’s vocals, which reach deep into his wide vocal range. After slowing down dynamically around the two-minute mark, the song’s vitality re-emerges with a keyboard solo and a return to the upbeat sound of the song as the end arrives.
A delicate guitar riff played over slow, careful acoustic guitar chords introduces the listener to “Who Else?” the final song on the record. Quick chord changes highlighted by keyboard playing and vocal harmonies, bring this tune a melodic and catchy aura. This song, one of the most beautiful on the entire album, is arguably the most memorable song on the record. Taken as a whole, Nomad offers the listener a unique blend of folk, indie rock and country elements that successfully maintain an emotive quality even within complex, technical musical structures.
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