One day in Góis, Portugal, during summer of 2017, Richard Luke woke up without a voice. That did not stop him from writing a new full-length album with Amira Bedrush-McDonald, a violinist collaborator from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Called Voz, the new album is a neo-Classical anthology.
At the time that Luke was temporarily stricken mute, Portugal was ravaged with wildfires. Unfortunately, I become more familiar with the circumstance every summer in California. A fire has many levels of power: symbolic, shown through story; figurative, for anyone outside the evacuation zone; and its literal power can turn lives to ash in minutes. The power of the blazes fueled some of Luke’s own feelings which were documented in the material that he wrote with Bedrush-McDonald.
Toward the end of the telling single “Wildfire,” amid church bells you can barely make out a chainsaw—a neighbor was removing branches strategically to help stop the spread of the flames. The persistent and growing melodies throughout the song were meant to be foreboding, Luke told self-titled, “trying to portray a relentless, impending feeling—a fear of something rolling along with its own momentum.” To contrast the unease, “Washing Day” was inspired by the quotidian beauty of doing laundry; no matter the circumstance, whether facing disaster or fortune, everyone has to eventually go through their dirty clothes.
The songs on Voz are peaceful and rhythmic, enough for meditation or to drown out distractions during work. An active ear will hear more than simple, Baroque lullabies: melodies act as verses, uniting with other instruments to tell their own types of stories. On “Beachcombing,” gestures made on the violin resonate to other strings, bouncing off of a steady piano line. And, without being fully here, “Bookmarks” reminds us that we are also not lost, as sighing strings meet the recurring, ever-patient piano notes.
Bedrush-McDonald and Luke met at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra while the latter was a stagehand. Their alliance brought us new, well-balanced work during a moment in both their lives that likely caused tangible stress too. Maybe the music’s longevity comes from this antithetical detail, or maybe it draws on the ageless nature of an orchestra. Regardless, this soft, short release will live on.
Amira Bedrush-McDonald | Twitter
Best Albums of 2018
3. Richard Luke and Amira Bedrush-McDonald – Voz