We like to romanticize the wandering musician. A spirit unbound by daunting mainstream news cycles and ignorant to the 9-5, living a dollar at a time. And the minstrel needs us to continue believing the hard illusion, for their personas can quickly vanish with the appearance of an iPhone. Luke Redfield is a real troubadour, or at least his music would have us believe.
Tied deeply with roots music, the traveling man likes to explain experiences with poetic exaggeration, and visual stimulus; Redfield maintains the tradition of mystery as well. They'd have us believe their outlaws, scorn lovers, hungry and heartbroken (and most probably are these things and more).
But everyone needs a base, and for Redfield it is Minneapolis, MN. In recent years, Minneapolis has seen an explosion of some of the greatest roots, alt country, folk, and every twisted genre in between. All of these sub genres and mainstays snake their way into Tusen Takk. Its foundation is Americana and country, but a broad spectrum fills in all the cracks. Influences fuse and a certain ambience takes over. It's difficult to pinpoint a direction that Tusen Takk is taking, but this might be attributed to the number of different performers, and the handful of different cities in which it was recorded. For instance, it's difficult to foresee the piano heavy, reverb rich and boisterous "Ides of May" coming a few tracks after the soft and sweeping orchestral duet "I Want Only".
Though, on second thought, the scatterbrained assortment of songs makes perfect sense. Like the traveling man, this album is never in one spot for very long. And the road ahead of them might be straight, or it might be a mountain of switchbacks. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.
Overall, Tusen Takk is a lovely listen. Its schizophrenic character never dulls, and Redfield's abilities to shake up a genre are refreshing.
I found Cathleen's biography to be somewhat like a fairy tale. A hurried and enchanting shove onto the stage, and upwards to success. Picking up the guitar in her mid 20's, she explains that she developed the ability to strum a few chords, write and sing very quickly, like these talents were waiting for her. Well, I appreciate them for being patient with her.
Cathleen has a beautifully full and woody voice. Its presence is modest, but the sound of it is humbling. Her deliverance of each lyric brings out a crisp realism to the words. Switching between a laid back, bluesy attitude and Florence the Machine/Janis Joplin power, as on "Brilliant Bright"; Lesperance's vocal control is astounding. She knows when to cut a note, push a little further, or draw out and play with the melody.
Aside from the fantastic vocal performance, the instrumentation on this record is also great, and very fun. The flat picking on the alt-country tunes is flawless and the percussion is lifting and light. The songs are fresh and work well together. And lyrically Lesperance is a very strong writer. It's refreshing to hear honesty in music, and I feel that Lesperance puts a lot of her soul into every word.
If you're interested in hearing Cathleen Lesperance's beautifully crafted songs, she will be performing in Yorkton at the 5th Avenue Cup and Saucer on Friday, October 5th. 6:30 p.m.