These days, there are a crapload of classic rock bands who are a mockery of their former selves. There are countless bands out on the road, prostituting their name on a pure money grab, often touring without any original members. I was afraid I’d be in for more of the same when The Wailers played Velvet Sessions this week. I was totally wrong. The Wailers today are closely connected to the Wailers of 5 decades ago. They are reggae’s first family and on this sumptuous night, they delivered a legendary show for a sweaty, pulsating crowd at the cozy Hard Rock Hotel venue.
Luke Dowler is without a doubt my favorite musician out of Montana; okay, he’s the only artist I know of from Big Sky Country. But, based on the raw passionate rock of Polarized, his recent full length release, I’m looking forward to more rock from the state.
Dowler, a talented singer songwriter has offered up a nice diverse collection of rock ‘n roll, featuring excellent heart felt lyrics. I’ve heard Dowler compared to Springsteen, and on some of his social commentary tunes I certainly see the resemblance, but the comparison I find myself drawn to surprisingly is Bob Marley. No, his music is certainly not reggae, it’s straight forward solid American rock ‘n roll. Dowler’s music offers raw vocals with an urgent passion, mixed with poignant lyrics about world affairs, relationships and deep personal faith. That description also fits Marley fairly well, but the number of musicians in that circle is quite limited. Now, you can add Luke Dowler to that short list.
The album features a nice diverse mix of rock music, highlighted by thoughtful, provocative lyrics. It’s good stuff. The opening track, “Coming Alive” is a good choice as the first single as it is a clever tune where Dowler’s gritty lyrics remind me of Mike Ness, yet it’s meshed with smooth harmonies and a nice pop sound. “Umbrella” is another fun cut that features profound lyrics. It reminded me a bit of Randy Newman. By now, it should be apparent that Luke Dowler’s sound is hard to pigeonhole, but it’s music worth a listen.
The title track is another solid song offering up provoking social commentary, offering lyrics we should all be able to resonate with regardless of which dolt we support for President. “These are some of the reasons we are at war,” highlights the cleaver lyrics and could certainly have different meanings depending on the listener’s interpretation. “I want a soul like a kerosene cocktail, I want a riot, I don’t want to burn out quiet,” from the powerful arena rocker “Perseus” is a nice personal call for action.
The best track on the album is “Gun.” It’s a bit more stripped down than the rest of the album, it features Dowler’s persuasive voice accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar. “Everyone I know wants to own the world, but you can’t change the world with a gun, you can’t change without love.” Great lyrics, and quite possibly a bit Marleyesque in the messaging. A great song from an excellent American songwriter.
Check it out!