Luka Bloom: Bittersweet Crimson review – Plaintive pleasures
Singer / Songwriter
The utter joy in the ephemeral; the simplicity of life’s pleasures: Luka Bloom’s 22nd album could hardly be more timely. It’s as if it was gestating just for this moment when life has wound itself down to a lope (for some, at least). Bittersweet Crimson – recorded over two days in Windmill Lane studios just before lockdown, and taking its title from the Persian pomegranate – reaches wide and digs deep.
Reflections on the intimacy of old flames and friendship, on the wider horizon, the usurping of Palestine’s homeland and of the universality of community (from west Clare to Timbuktu) preoccupy Bloom and fuel this delicate collection. The songs are leavened by the attentive trio of Jon O’Connell, Steve Cooney and Robbie Harris (with Niamh Farrell’s subtlest of backing vocals and Adam Shapiro’s vital skeins of fiddle).
The languid pacing leaves ample space for multiple readings of Who Will Heal the Land (though its kinship to his ode to Palestine in Front Door Key is tangible), and its segue into a genteel reading of The Foggy Dew adds further resonance to what is already a plaintive plea to bridge the disconnect between heart and head.
A Heaney tribute (The Day the Great Oak Fell) and Hunger, a spoken-word meditation on the life source that propels us onwards, are two more that linger long after their final notes.
Respite and resilience in pristine balance.