Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Music to Look for: Jeffrey Luck Lucas

A while back, I was playing around with Rhythmbox, my GNOME music-player of choice, and I came across the plugin for Magnatune, a new kind of internet-based record label, which sells an artist’s music online splitting profits with them 50/50. Not only that, but they also make Ogg Vorbis and FLAC versions of recordings available, and you get to name your own price, between $5 and $18 US. Not a bad deal, especially since you can preview the music before you buy it, and decide how much you think it’s worth.

This isn’t about Magnatune though, this is about an San Francisco-based artist I discovered via Magnatune named Jeffrey Luck Lucas, a Country/Folk artist. Lucas cites 40s and 50s Country music and Mexican Folk as his muses for his unique brand of music, and is able to produce hauntingly beautiful music. I think the BBC review of Hell Then Devine says it best.

Rather than the usual collection of songs, Hell Then Divine is like listening to a drunken man mumbling through his life story. Sometimes banal, occasionally bizarre, the story is somehow gripping as you strain to listen.

The music is dark and moody, but not depressing. It bends and sways like a leisurely stroll down a deserted city street. Lucas’ own deep voice calls out slowly and deliberately, telling stories he’s yearned to tell since his punk rock days in Morlock.

I began listening to Lucas because he reminded me of Tom Waits, and his sound is similar, though he stays to the haunting stories. As haunting and miserable as the lyrics are, the songs don’t leave you depressed, as Lucas’ voice contains a comfortable acceptance, a sense of peace with the world, and a general feeling of contentment.

The world Lucas’ began to paint in 2004’s Hell Then Devine, contined in 2006’s What We Whisper, and hopefully continues in 2008’s upcoming The Lion’s Jaw is not a happy world. But it’s real. The realness and honesty in Lucas’ voice will draw you in and you’ll lay happily wrapped in a cocoon of his bluesy country drawl.

Check him out on Magnatune, you’ll be able to check his music out, before deciding to buy it. And if you live in San Francisco, try to check out one of his shows. I’d be there if I could.