We love home brews and Gary Lucas is certainly one of those. The Brit returns for his new album “The Way My Story Goes” and its acoustic pop rock tones pushes a gentle confessional along quite happily. This is an album for those moments on banks of grass surveying the scene.
Opening with “In Doubt” the fusion of crystal clear guitar, piano, drums and the occasional synth string arrangement means that because there’s a lot of clarity, the instruments push forward together. It’s in the breakdowns of the chorus where the track shines though, as everything really falls into place perfectly. Gary’s voice has two modes. The softer and quieter side, and an audibly taut “hnnnnng” side. The softer side definitely engages more because the production of the album let’s it sit better in the mix. “Glow” allows this softer side to shine with the fusion of acoustic guitar, gentle piano and some layered vocals. “Rain” strips everything away for an intimate guitar and vocal track. It’s in these places where Lucas shines the most. He can hold a space in the tender moments that shows he can really hold his own – and he knows how to not rush something too. The little nuances are what elevate this track to great.
“Don’t You Worry” is quietly upbeat with a toe tapping beat and simple song design. It’s a nice introduction to Gary Lucas for a newbie and could be a good radio hit. The genre is religious according to the MP3 file but I got more of a life affirmation viewpoint from it. “Tell Me That It’s Time” is a quiet piano ballad and sits aside the complete opposite “You Think You Know Me” which takes things towards a more pop rock flavour. Some interesting keyboard antics and Gary hitting a more rock flavour without pushing too hard makes it one of the strongest tracks on the album. It also has some of the best lyrics on the album. Something tells me Gary is a bit bored of being pigeon-holed in his life in general, and being told no. It’s a recurring theme and it feels like a lot of the energy of the album is devoted to telling people “I was capable after all thanks!”
“Your Car” continues the albums gradual lean towards a poppier tone. Electronic percussion and a retro midi organ forms the texture of the track, it also pushes some of the unusual tones of the album which is welcome between the acoustic piece. “That Is Enough” takes a quieter road. The piano and gentle string undertow is sweet and gentle and it’s closing minute or so is my highlight of the album. It’s where sweet meets passion and heartbreak and it feels like Gary truly pours his heart into the speakers. “Make The Pain Go Away” follows on with another heart wrenching track that is beautifully understated. “Universal Understanding” returns to the radio pop side of the album but is eclipsed for me by the euphoric “To Be Me” which is an apt, upbeat closer about being yourself and it’s OK to be yourself.
The album, the instruments, the singing and the production is both helped and hindered by the home-brew approach. Sometimes notes clash, sometimes things feel a bit too MIDI based and thin and sometimes the backing vocals feel like they are too full against the main vocal. However, it’s in the quiet moments you can hear the simplicity shine through and that’s where Gary Lucas pushes his messages home best. One to watch.