Luca / Nick Luca

You Win Again

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Shortened from the Nick Luca Trio to the last name of its singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist frontman, this act remains a three-piece with a stark but sumptuous sound. The Tucson, AZ-based band specializes in what can vaguely be described as "desert indie rock." Somewhat similar to Calexico (without the Tex-Mex influences) and a less abrasive Giant Sand (without the grunge), both of whom he has worked with, Luca -- the musician and the band -- keeps the melodies lazy yet accessible. Nick Luca has a wispy, nearly dreamlike vocal quality that perfectly compliments this delicate music. Like the cover painting, these moody songs are deceptively simple with layers of instruments subtly bubbling under the surface. There is also a vague '70s feel to some tracks, especially noticeable in the dated but lovely synth that creates the ELO-ish riff on "Au Natural." Song titles such as "Waiting for Lost Time" perfectly describe the brooding lost and lonely terrain the band basks in, relaxing in a sun-drenched, humid haze of guitars, keyboards, occasional accordion, and Luca's spoken-sung vocals. The low-boil guitar parts bolster the atmosphere with thick, molasses-styled chords that never break into a solo. There is a restrained tension to the album that is particularly effective in the threatening stalker theme of "I'll Get You Back," while lounge piano plays in the foreground. It's a disc that probably needs repeated spins in a quiet environment to fully appreciate its unobtrusive craftsmanship. Consequently, it is especially potent on late, lonely Saturday nights and rain-drenched Sunday mornings.

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