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CD Review: Jeffrey Luck Lucas – What We Whisper

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Darkly ethereal, What We Whisper, the new release from Jeffrey Luck Lucas, paints an aural landscape littered with dashed dreams and bleak futures, populated with jaded protagonists who wear their world weariness like a favorite jacket — tattered memories they can't throw away no matter how much they'd like to. The pain of them is perversely comforting. "Tell me why you carry your tears like a melody," Lucas plaintively asks in "The Pills," knowing the answer is, in fact, the question.

The questions Lucas poses throughout What We Whisper have at their root the eternal conflict of humanity's place in a world much larger than itself, and he grapples with them in a voice drenched in urban angst. This is not an album of anthemic platitudes — it's more akin to Tom Waits channeled through Leonard Cohen. As such, it beckons the listener into an intricate web of choices that may have gone wrong but have nonetheless left the protagonist with no regrets. In Lucas's world, there are no necessarily good or bad things that happen, only experiences.

All of this is played against a backdrop of not surprisingly minor chords reminiscent of a modern noir soundtrack. It's all delicately nuanced, accentuated by the occasional cello and haunting background vocals of Wendy Allen. Desmond Shea's production complements the instrumentation perfectly, endowing it with an aura that is at once otherwordly, yet disturbingly familiar. And throughout it all, there is that voice — soaked in whiskey and weary with the weight of memories, tortured yet at peace, compelling the listener to hear these tales.

What We Whisper is a deceptively subtle work that requires the listener to actually listen. What Jeffrey Luck Lucas has done here is given us a tour of love and life as seen from fog-shrouded alleys and dusty border towns that exist only in our darker dreams. It's a tour best taken at night, when one most feels the pangs of retrospection.

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