Some people chase storms, marveling at the sheer awesomeness of nature’s transformative power. Others weather storms, and come out a bit banged up but wiser. Recently, singer-songwriter Luke Elliot found himself pursuing a storm-chaser jones, studying Ireland’s infamously devastating 1839 windstorm which has been immortalized in poetry and prose as “The Night Of The Big Wind.” Simultaneous to this, Luke found himself embroiled in a maelstrom of personal and professional activity. His evocatively titled sophomore album, The Big Wind, is a barometer of these turbulent times.
“These songs have to do with a pull to come into a stable existence. While writing them, I had no permanent residence, but I stopped being a mess, I met my wife, and I scrambled to get this record done,” the New Jersey-based artist reveals. “Everybody has to grow up some time.”
Luke has garnered favorable comparisons to roots, folk, and rock icons such as Hank Williams, Big Joe Turner, Bob Dylan, Elmore James, PJ Harvey, and Nick Cave. His cinematic musicality is both elegant and earthy, offering forth bold emotionality, poetic lyrics, haunting epic tales, and a voice that exudes a richly patinaed vulnerability. Previously, Luke has issued an EP, and a LP, Dressed for the Occasion, produced by indie icon, John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile) which garnered prime critical acclaim.
Luke was born, raised, and remains in New Jersey, but, as an artist, he was bred around the tri-state area. These days, Luke enjoys an international artist’s profile, having toured extensively in the U.S., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, and Europe.
The Jersey-based artist’s latest, The Big Wind, is a boldly textured and instantly immersive album that recalls the film noir-ish touch of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. The production, in addition to being filmic, is also sleekly modern. The 10-track album opens with “All On Board” which boasts a sly nod to hip-hop that marks the first time Luke has used a drum machine on a recording (purists fear not as organic drums emerge by the track’s second verse). The song’s gorgeously moody orchestral sensibility and adventurous musicality set the tone for the album, sending the message this is a different animal than its predecessor.
The Big Wind’s leadoff single, “Somebody’s Man (featuring Sivert Høyem),” showcases another first for Luke. Here, Luke explores richly expressive low-range vocals. This was a by-accident discovery, but it became an emotionally resonant direction for Luke when singing other songs on the album. Another standout is the impressionistic and dreamy title track which with dramatic musicality and poetically evocative lyrics conjures the visceral immediacy of being, literally, “in the eye of the storm.”
Now that the whirlwind surrounding The Big Wind has settled, these days Luke is balancing family life with the call of the road. “I’m grateful to finally have things sorted out. I want to be a descent husband, father, and tour as much as possible,” he says, pausing, “In a lot of ways, I’m grateful for the scramble.”