REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Everybody’s Talkin’ About Luke Saxton’s LA Obsession

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Teenage songwriter wears his heart on his (bathrobe’s) sleeve.

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A 19-year old from York, Luke Saxton’s obsessions flow far beyond the Ouse and Foss, across an Ocean or two to Long Beach, California.

Boasting an already 24 (bedroom) albums and 400 songs to his name, Saxton’s debut proper Sunny Sadness comes with a lazy “60s sunshine pop” tag from labels Bad Paintings and The Inkwell; but these eight tunes are anything but hazy rays.

With George Harrison having forewarned of a fog upon LA, so the early 1970s spawned darker treats from the city’s adopted weirdo tunesmiths, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson.

It’s Nilsson in particular that Saxton is channeling, so much so that its as if he’s in practice for a turn on a recommissioned Stars In Their Eyes. This youngster’s mostly double-tracked vocals certainly bare an uncanny resemblance to his hero’s wayward croon, complete with the occasional glass-shattering falsetto.

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Nilsson’s songwriting, and in particularly his voice, changed markedly during his career - from angelic 60s whimsy, through to harder edged early 70s rock outs, until the boozing caused an horrific ruptured vocal cord during the recording of 1974's Pussy Cats with John Lennon.

Saxton knows all this I’m sure and catches it just right in the best song here, "Song For Harry Nilsson", a beautiful slice of melodic tunesmithery. Another tribute, "Spring Is Here", leans a little too much on his hero’s "Remember (Christmas)".

It’s at this point in the review that I start to feel a bit mean for dwelling too much on Saxton’s influences as he’s actually a very talented songwriter in his own right who is more than capable of crafting his own ramshackle melodies. It’s a remarkable feat given that Sunny Sadness was recorded entirely by Saxton alone on free software when he was just 17.

Take the fragile finger-picking balladry of "A Little Man Done", or the gorgeous lovelorn shuffle of closer "In Your Heart", and you’ll hear a great new talent coming to fruition. He just needs to find his own voice.

Sunny Sadness is released on 24 November by Bad Paintings/The Inkwell

By Gary Shepherd