Luka Bloom – Dreams in America (CD review)

Luka Bloom – Dreams in America (Big Sky Records) It’s fitting that Luka Bloom titled his new CD Dreams in America, since it was his journey from his Irish homeland to New York City over twenty years ago that would set him on his musical path.  Bloom released his debut, Riverside, back in 1990.  Though his voice has deepened, if anything he has shown a greater ability to express a wide array of emotions.  As always, his excellent guitar playing is a constant.

Dreams in America finds Bloom revisiting his back catalog accompanied only by his voice and acoustic guitar.  While his singing and unique fretwork have always been a constant throughout his career, Bloom has used different arrangements over the years to accompany his songs.  This is an interesting setting in that all the songs are starting from the same point (sparse arrangement).  In this environment, Bloom is able to showcase his wide array of emotions.  This is not meant as a “greatest hits live” type package – his excellent rendition of LL Cool J’s “I Need Love” is absent, so is his breakthrough single, “Delirious.”

Yet, what he’s done here is assembled an excellent overview of some of his best work through the years and provided a setting for them all to exist on common ground.  Also of note is “Be Still Now,” a cut from his underrated “Before Sleep Comes” collection.  The twelve solo performances are augmented by three live bonus cuts, two of them featuring an Irish orchestra.  The final track, “Sunny Sailor Boy,” finds the singer in a pub setting where the audience helps him sing the chorus.  Overall a satisfying release from an underrated performer.  –Tony Peters