Parenthood brings out a sweet and calming folk album from psychedelic rock artist
When you’re young, it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of a parent, especially a new one. The world seems so big–how could one possibly teach a child the mysteries, dangers and wonders of the world? Alex Maas, of psychedelic rock group Black Angels fame, is able to encapsulate the feeling of being a first time parent on his debut solo folk album, Luca, named after his first born son.
Luca perfectly combines nature with nurture. Falling into the world of Luca is an incredible adventure, one filled with gardens, memories, wonderful acoustics and thoughtful lyrics. The album captures the daunting yet loving feeling of newfound parenthood. It’s soft and gentle, like the way you’d cradle a child, but Maas doesn’t hold back on giving sound advice, even if it’s hard to hear.
The album starts off with the slow “Slip Into.” It’s filled with reverb, and the lyrics sound spoken rather than sung. Upon listening to it, people will think that the album will be an entirely different experience than it actually is. It doesn’t sound as eerie compared to other songs on the album, but it certainly has a very specific haunting feel to it. Another song that has a similar haunting vibe is “What Would I Tell Your Mother,” except it does an enchanting job of weaving in the sounds of nature into the song: birds chirping and a fuzzy background that sounds like the pattering of soft rainfall, coupled with a harp.
The three best songs on the album arrive in succession. The first song, “Special,” is an incredibly simple and delightful folksy wonderland. Its soft, acoustic melody is incredibly calming, coupled with warm, sweet lyrics: “I feel special when I’m with you, I feel strong when I’m with you.”
“Been Struggling” follows behind and brings a different vibe along with it. While “Special” discusses feelings towards someone important, “Been Struggling” dives into the self. It’s still acoustic, but it includes drums and cymbals. The build up towards the middle of the song provides an amazingly euphoric feeling. The lyrics, “you should have been struggling like all of the rest,” show how it’s always important to stand one’s ground. While it may sound melancholy, the song is quite optimistic.
The song “500 Dreams” is a direct message to Luca, and it’s one of the best songs on the album. It starts off with the hypnotic ring of a bell before heading into a light acoustic section, but the real hero of the song is its lyrics. On the pre chorus, Maas sings, “a city comes and makes you feel so small, the tide rolls in, covers you, head and all.” There will always be moments where life feels overwhelming. As a child, one believes that adults can do anything, but once people begin adulthood themselves, they realize how big the world is and how small they truly are. This song will provide comfort in those particular moments, as well as other difficult moments throughout a lifetime. The message is so genuine and pure, one that a child can’t understand but will eventually. “500 Dreams” is a string of different pieces of advice meant to be used later on in life. It’s a time capsule of the first moments of Luca’s life, especially with the lyrics, “sleep, for your mama and me.”
“American Conquest” appears further down the album, and it sounds as if it’s straight out of a western. The lyrics are sung with a very specific twang to them, which makes sense as Maas is a Texas native. The rattles in the background, along with the groaning of the guitar, add to the forming western facade, complete with tumbleweeds and skeletons. Once audience members listen to the lyrics, however, the western mood starts to make sense. The lyrics deal heavily with gun violence, specifically mass shootings. The song quickly becomes haunting with the lyrics, “children killing children… better kiss your children before they go to bed.”
Even if people can’t find themselves relating to a newfound parenthood, they will be completely enthralled by the sound advice and beautiful storytelling in Alex Maas’ Luca. These days, it’s hard to feel connected to family because of the pandemic, but this record will make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. With its calming acoustics and touching lyrics, Luca brings the familial warmth that people have all been craving.