No Depression Review - Posted by Rick J Bowen on July 26, 2013 at 2:31pm View Blog
Les Lucky - Frets and Hammers
Les Lucky - Frets and Hammers - Red Kat
Veteran session player, band leader and music director at the Stanhope House, Les Lucky puts all his skill on display on his solo debut Frets & Hammers. The twelve song collection of rootsy, poppy, easy going tunes were written, recorded and performed entirely by Lucky on guitar, bass, keys and percussion. One could call this a demo album taken to the extreme as Lucky fleshes out all the arrangements with a fluidly weaving compliment of instruments on each track, even echoing himself with his own vocal backups. Strongest among the tunes are the country blues rambler "Lone Wolf," and the hard luck story "When the Deal Goes Down." The slinky soul of "Stop Talkin' Around It," with its groovin' piano riff could be a great live band tune that would fill a dance floor.
Rick J Bowen
Blues Bytes Review - July 2013 - Frets & Hammers
Les Lucky was born in the Midwest, but has spent the bulk of his life in and around New York City, where he has worked as a music producer for TV and radio, while playing in various bands around the NYC area, performing as a solo act and with [and for] artists like Les Paul, Elton John, Harry Belafonte, Levon Helm, and Phyllis Hyman. Despite that versatile list of performers, Lucky’s primary influences, when following his own muse, are the blues and jazz.
For Lucky’s debut release, Frets & Hammers (Red Kat Recordings), Lucky wrote all twelve songs, produced the disc, and played all instruments (guitars, piano, organ, bass, drums, synths, and percussion). There’s a variety of styles present, opening with the countryish I’ll Take My Chances,” moving to the country blues of “Lone Wolf,” to the keyboard-driven “Everything’s Gone Wrong,” which sounds a lot like the country-rock tunes of the early 70’s.
The upbeat “Goin’ To See My Baby” is followed by the ominous “When The Deal Goes Down” brings to mind the sparse rhythms of J. J. Cale. “Shades of Blue” is a heartfelt blues ballad, and “Stop Talkin’ Around It” and “I’ve Had Enough" are both solid ventures into funk territory. Lucky goes topical on “An Ill Wind Is Howling,” a driving blues with lyrics that can easily be tied into current events. The closer, “You Win Again, Jen,” is a soulful chronicle of a doomed relationship.
Les Lucky put everything he has into the disc, literally. Though his instrument work is first-rate on everything he plays, his warm and heartfelt vocals really breathe life into his insightful, and often personal, lyrics. Frets & Hammers was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t see coming, and with each listen I find something else about it to enjoy. I know that it will appeal to blues fans, as well as music fans in general.
Popa's Tunes Blog June 26, 2013
Les Lucky made his way from his home in the Midwest to the New York City area, New Jersey actually where he became an unusually prolific, in-demand session cat and band leader while honing his unique original material. His solo debut Frets & Hammers is the glorious result of an exceptional talent brought to bear on extraordinary material. Lucky sings all vocal parts, plays guitar, piano, bass, percussion and programs drum tracks on 12 lyrical originals.Release date is set for July 2nd on iTunes, CD Baby or Amazon
Les Lucky was born and raised in the Midwest but has spent most of his adult life in the NYC area. Early on, he cut his teeth on the song-oriented vocal music of rock, folk/rock and R&B, but as his skills on guitar and piano developed, the blues, and later jazz, also became influences.
Within months of moving to the NYC area, Les was producing music for TV and radio as well as doing local band gigs. Within two years, he was the featured performer on over 300 dates a year while writing and recording during the day. Along with stints in Las Vegas, Montreal and New England, he spent 5-8 months a year as a solo performer in Europe for several years. He has had the honor and privilege of performing with and for many legends including Les Paul, Elton John, Harry Belafonte, Levon Helm, and Phyllis Hyman.
This is American music by a man who is ready to see where this new music will take him. His world-worn observations provide insightful, and often personal, glimpses into life's struggles as well as its celebrations. He distills the lessons learned from life's trials and tribulations into songs about modern-day relationships, love lost and life's wonders as well as stories of hard luck, questionable choices and human frailties. Les' vocal style ranges from breathy to hard-edged and beyond, while his instrumental prowess is evident in his flights of fancy on both guitar and piano. His transition from one instrument to another is as natural as it is entertaining.
Midwest Record June 15, 2013 - RED KAT
LES LUCKY / Frets & Hammers:
This guy is like a folk/roots Todd Rundgren. He writes and plays everything and bounces around styles within styles serving up the kind of date that takes you by surprise. A thoroughly pro cat that generally has labored in the background, he picked the right time for his solo turn and does a nice job of hitting it out of the park for adult listeners that still think the good old days might come back. Tasty stuff that succeeds by cutting to the chase and keeping the buffet fresh and tasty. Well done. 10.
PBS 106.7 Melbourne, Australia - June 10, 2013
Review by Program Director Peter Merrett
LES LUCKY "FRETS & HAMMERS"
“When l first played this album l was left a little perplexed as to how l felt about it. It was only when l realized l was wanting to hear something that l wanted to hear which was completely different from what Lucky was offering.
So l sat back and started again to listen carefully to what Lucky wanted to tell us and display his fine vocals and prodigious musicianship. Now l started to dig Les Lucky and it came easy for here is an uncomplicated album that is not suffering from over production and drumming mixed so far forward so as to drown out everything on the album.
I really started to enjoy the honesty of this album as every ingredient was from Lucky melded into a wonderful album. To not only write, sing and play all instruments on an album is a rarity these days but even more impressive is the consistent quality throughout.
Might be a bit of a sleeper until the listeners do what l did and listen to the songs. Don't worry you will get it and want more of it.”
2012 REVIEWS (from radio preview)
On March 21, 2012, a reviewer at KPOET in Wittier, CA wrote:
An Ill Wind Is Howling is a new track that presents great instrumentals, which mesh together in a creative form. Each individual instrument has an original sound, but when put together with all of the others, it is a great piece of art. The track sounds like it has an influence from Rock, but the guitar riff has a small influence of Southern music. The piano also adds an awesome vibe to the song - it is unexpected but it actually fits perfectly with the rest of the track. Since the instrumentals are complex and interesting, it allows for the vocals to be somewhat simple as they are heard on the track. The guitar in this song is similar to that of Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits. Overall, it is a great new track and the band should continue its work to create more amazing instrumental vibes.
On March 19, 2012, Pat Ballard of WKTG Madisonville, KY wrote of An Ill Wind Is Howling: very well produced, the mix is very well done. Timing is excellent. I hear elements of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as well as Fleetwood Mac. The harmonies were good. Relevant topical lyrics as well. The feel and groove are cool. I dig it.