Prolific singer/songwriter Luke Dowler of Kalispell has the third leg of his four-directions project out, and it’s as polished, original, and well-executed as his many other efforts. His brawny, gravelly baritone takes the spotlight on his eight pieces, and he also proffers guitars, piano, bass, percussion, synth and programming to flesh out the flawless sound. Friends and family helping out on select tracks are his brother Zach and Ben Summers, drums, Jesse Maw, violin, and wife Jacy, background vocals.
Dowler’s forte is composing songs that sound different from each other yet remain part of a whole. His loquacious style of singing wraps storytelling around film-like accompaniment; it makes his works riveting and, in fact, he has written scores for film and TV.
Dowler says South reflects a more down-to-earth flavor that “explores heartache,” casting the songs in a folk-rock genre. But he also brings pop, country, and blues edges to his work, demonstrating his versatility.
The hypnotizing riff to start “For God’s Sake” belies the underlying theme of war. Dowler’s gritty tones with timbres of Dave Matthews and John Mayer overlay the distant percussive nuances insinuating battle. “For God’s sake, don’t kill for me,” Dowler sings. It’s a very moving piece.
He sings about his dad in deep burnished sounds on “A Good Man Loves Somebody Else,” as he recognizes his father’s many flaws but loves him still. “My daddy was a good man, even though he was a mess,” go the lyrics.
”Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!” is a scratchy rocker with crunchy electric guitar chords and lots of reverby singing wherein Dowler opines about a dangerous, captivating woman.
“Hemingway Romance” has percussive guitar and Dowler crooning in his higher register. It picks up with a rock-steady instrumental and “ah-ah-oh-ohs” as it fades out. Not many artists use fade-outs anymore, but they are effective.
This is yet another fine example of music from one of Montana’s most accomplished artists.
– Mariss McTucker