Luke Plumb & The Circuit
Label: Self Released
Album: Turn & Re Turn
“And now for something completely different” was a catch phrase used by English actor John Cleese. Often new music releases can almost be pigeon-holed into clearly defined genres, then along comes an album in a genre quite uniquely its’ own. My initial impressions were of Zorba the Greek meeting legendary folk singer Nic Jones, Morrissey of The Smiths, with a strong input from Herb Albert of the Tijuana Brass. Quite a result from an Australian virtuoso mandolin player !
Luke Plumb will be very well known to fans of the Scottish band Shooglenhifty. His strong classical training and the broad international scope of his music meant he was swiftly recruited by the band in 2002, and for eleven years he was a major influence in the bands musical output including three studio albums. During that time he was also very busy touring and recording with his own group, the Funky String Band.
Several projects followed and then a trip to southern Greece for a special project, the Eumelia Ensemble, and it’s this project that will give you some idea of the creative powers of Luke Plumb and gives a useful backdrop to the imagination behind ‘Turn and ReTurn’. Let Luke tell the story….
“Rather than go into a studio and work to the clock I flew the various members ( a Cypriot, an Afghani and several Scots, and an American to document it all ), to an eco farm in southern Greece for a week of intense rehearsal and recording. Calum Malcolm was on board to engineer and produce the sessions and the result was a great testament to what can be done given the right people, location, focus and good FOOD ! ”
Having recently had a vacation in Southern Greece and enjoyed Cretan food and traditional music I wish I could have been at the ‘eco farm sessions’, but Soundcloud to the rescue, for Luke has put all the music there under the name ‘Mandoluke’. Well worth a visit!
And now to the new album from Luke and his new band The Circuit, all of them experienced performers. The pairing of mandolin and trumpet as lead instruments is certainly different from the usual choices, but both Luke and trumpeter Eamon McNelis are consummate performers with their instruments, and back the lyrical storytelling of the songs very well. The first track ‘All That Can Be Done’ sets the style and tone “Couldn’t have believed what I have become, dreams are the limit of what can be done” sings Luke.
The next tracks follow a similar theme with Cretan influence very evident, then ‘Wee Eugenie’ alters the mood, a gentle instrumental that would grace any Scottish pub session, with the trumpet seamlessly joining the mandolin and guitar. Then up a gear into ‘A Free Man’s Chains’ and “Every time you strike, you thought you struck gold, and made a roaring flame from spark, and turn diamond from coal”. Vocally and lyrically there is more than a nod in the direction of Nic Jones, and shows why he is a leading figure in the world of folk music.
The songs continue strong and true to the album’s theme, a then track eight ‘These Arms’ unfurls into the listener’s ears as a beautifully lyrical piece that really shows off Luke Plumb’s vocals with terrific lyrics. The mandolin romps away at the start of the next track, and the album finishes with ‘Alison’s Waltz’, a gentle instrumental to top off a lively and superbly produced album.
Australia is getting geared up for the live album launch, and one critic wrote “ Variety style headlines are exploding in my head…. Boffo! Magnificent! Monstrous! I tell you, they are that good ”..... Seems like Australia is in for a bit of a musical riot.