Saturday, June 12, 2010
Album and concert review: Tomorrow’s Ghosts by Luke Wade and No Civilians
In general Tomorrow’s Ghosts is an excellent beginning for this new music project.
FORT WORTH Inside the McDavid Studio in downtown Fort Worth, the crowd was seated and calm, dressed in summer frocks, drinking white wine and waiting for Luke Wade and No Civilians to start. Their album release show was hosted in the most proper of venues, an extension of Bass Hall with a sound quality that’s as equally revered. With a suited ticket-taker and a bartender with a bowtie, it’s not every day jam bands play in digs like these, but the atmosphere worked.
Luke Wade & No Civilians — Friday on the Green
The lighting was subtle and candles in front of the stage were lit for a personal show and tell of sorts, of Luke Wade’s newest compilation, Tomorrow’s Ghosts. Their funk-meets-Blues Brother sound that’s so infectious masked the severe vulnerability of Wade’s lyrics, for many of his songs reveled in the love-lost-and-yearning category. And it boded well in this setting, as the audience grew silent and attentive when Wade sang his stories.
The sound in the McDavid Studio was impeccable, and so was the eight-piece band of Wade and his posse pumping through the speakers. All dressed in their Sunday best – variations of pale blue button-downs and dark vests – Wade was accompanied by his primary bandmates (Justin Pate, Blaine Crews, Nick Choate, and Scott Lee), with an added bonus of a percussionist, saxophone, and trumpet player.
The combination was a veritable masterpiece of funk, soul, and R&B. “Quiet As You Can” was a highlight, whispering about a late night booty call over a sensual, syrupy groove. Wade’s vocals are a clearer, less hazy version of Ray LaMontagne’s, with a soulful wail that pleads in every melody.
Wade’s fellow bandmates greeted the set with a well-trained nonchalance only seasoned musicians can muster. Choate’s presence on the guitar more than a few times commanded a “we’re-not-worthy” bow or two, as did keyboardist Pate’s unassuming piano prowess that snuck seamlessly into bridges and breaks.
Towards the end of the set, with only a few songs left to play, crowd members finally gave in to their bottled urges to boogie down, and jumped from their silver seats and met the band with timid hip sways and finger snaps.
What Wade and No Civilians represented live is near identical to their album version of Tomorrow’s Ghosts. Overall, the album is full of meaty dance-worthy jam band dishes, with sides of creamy trumpet and sax combos, anchored by bread and butter drumming and sweet as pie jazz piano pleasantries.
“Open Ocean” is an album favorite, with a jazzy, sauntering backbone with the flesh of a dirty saxophone tremble. “Save Her” is another gem, with a rootsy Southern jive and luscious lyrics about the careless girl’s cautionary tale.
Wade’s slower, acoustic numbers are equally emotionally charged. “Changes” is a ballad with an R&B tempo and soul-driven vocals. Wade’s just-breathy-enough singing stair steps over notes similar to that of another darling Fort Worthian, Josh Weathers. Both have the same white-guys-can-sing-soul vocal talent, and they even carry similar playing styles and mannerisms with their acoustic guitars. Good thing both frontmen can hold their own and then some.
In general Tomorrow’s Ghosts is an excellent beginning for this new music project. The songs are cohesive and light, with a nice diverse range of genres, that blend together in a mix of wailing guitar licks, swinging horns, jazz piano renderings, and a voice full of personal plight to carry them.
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