ALBUM REVIEW: Our Of We by Lucien Dante

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Lucien Dante is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist and producer hailing from Chicago in the States. Gifted in music and the arts from a young age, a turning point came at the age of sixteen, when he went to Germany on an exchange program. It was there that he realized he wanted to produce music and wrote his first songs which featured on his album, First Breath.

Since then, he has signed to DEG Records and already released three singles and the EP Lights. Our Of We is his debut album and consists of eighteen tracks (with a few songs being bonus tracks). Lucien worked with four different producers in creating the album and so the songs are varied in style and sound. He cites other singer songwriters like James Blake and Bon Iver as big influences, but he undoubtedly has a musical and lyrical style all of his own.

Essentially, I would classify his music as electro pop, with a production sheen throughout that gives it a modern, cutting edge sound. The focal point is undoubtedly Lucien’s remarkable voice, which has a crystalline, ethereal tone and an emotional vulnerability that can be powerful. He tends to sing in the upper apart of his range, which is a style currently hugely popular due to artists like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran.

The album has an intriguing introductory track that only lasts a minute, consisting of a spoken word dedication poem to the person who inspired the album. The next track Worldwide is a fine piece of electronic pop that features a four to the floor beat and an excellent vocal. It’s about the worldly wisdom and perspective you get through travelling: ‘If you want to live in the worldwide, gotta be worldwise!’

Love Me Lessons (I’m a Be) feat. Lu Reads comes next, a blissed out and hypnotic electro RnB track which contains the simple but poignant hook ‘I found love in the openness of your heart…’. Unexpectedly,  after the second chorus it features a fluent rap from Lu Reads, which works well within the context of the song. It is unusual these days for solo artists not to feature guest vocalists or rappers on their tracks and Lucien is no exception.

Cradle Me Germany is another excellent showcase for Lucien’s voice, a slow piano ballad with RnB overtones, like the lush backing harmonies. He sings some parts in an angelic falsetto and the chorus is emotive : ‘Germany, cradle me… there’s a life you gave to me..’. Fans of Sam Smith will love this well crafted song. Fifth track Spark is a nice contrast, a pop dance track with a Robert Miles style musical backing. It works well as an album track, but is tailor made for the clubs with a pulsating kick-heavy beat.

Lake House Glory carries on the dance vibe, though this one has a more laid back, summery feel. It’s about escaping with a lover for a holiday, and features some typically quirky lyrics: ‘Just like karaoke carries you, I’ll carry you away….’. Tell Me Why returns to the dreamy languid pace and electro pop of earlier tracks. Lyrically, it is about a lover with emotional issues: ‘Tell me why would you let me waste away? I don’t got the heart for playing games, so tell me why….’.

Beowulf is at a similar pace with a sparse musical backing, but the music is filled out by some breathtaking vocal harmonies that weave in and out of the song. The lyrics are societal rather than personal and very serious, originally about the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting. Lucien explains that ‘it explores a much deeper and broader issue about the destructive ways through which we raise male youth in America’.

#Should I Wait (the hash tag is part of the title – very modern!) returns to a romantic theme. It’s a slinky RnB track with a very catchy chorus, aided by a swirling synth sound. Lucien shows no fear in being gender specific in his songs and is brave in his openness and honesty about his sexuality. However, though it’s written from the perspective of a young gay man, love songs are universal. A great track and a potential single.

Ivory Toast is a fun upbeat dance track that takes Lucien from the deepest part of his range to the highest part of his falsetto, while Hookup (Romance) is a sultry, slow song that creates a sensual vibe. It’s a track to play when you’re on the sofa with a prospective lover and want to set the mood. Mr. Drugman is a late highlight, a funky RnB song about decadence and hedonism with the line : ‘Lately, sex feels like a commodity…’.

The album concludes with two piano ballads, Wolf and Dylan’s Keep, that are both excellent pieces of songwriting and feature some of his most poetic and powerful lyrics. There are a few good bonus tracks as well, which makes it eighteen altogether, an impressive amount for any album but especially for a debut.

Overall, this is an album that impresses in every aspect, as Lucien Dante excels as a singer and songwriter in equal measure. The production is both modern and cutting edge, which makes it perfect for radio. He fits in perfectly with the current strategist of male songwriters being emotionally honest and vulnerable in their music. He brings to mind someone like Rufus Wainwright, but with the commercial potential to become one of the major pop stars of his generation.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.9 out of 10

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