On February 2nd – Luke will release his latest studio effort – “Also Going Nowhere” – Produced by Erik Koskinen (Charlie Parr, Dave Simonett, Long Mama, David Huckfelt) – featuring Lauren Anderson (J.S Ondara, The Last Revel) on bass and harmony vocals, Chris Gray (Portal iii, Charlie Parr) on drums and Franky Moscow (Jaedyn James, TSTBST) on organ as well as Koskinen himself on additional guitars. It features 11 songs that both reflect and contribute to the evolution of American folk – rock and balladry – moving between each with a sense of purpose and groove.
“He’s Good” – Charlie Parr
“You know I don’t ever do this…but let me get that glass of whiskey for ya – you’re good” – Storied First Avenue Bartender
“You’re like…legit” – Eau Claire Sound Engineer
The reviews are in folkx – Luke Callen is a fine songwriter – singer – and player.
In an age of quick fixes, flashing screens, and pop ‘songs’ that are more formula than art, an album that takes its sweet time is a radical act. “Also Going Nowhere”, Luke Callen’s third full-length effort is just that – a collection of songs that spread out through time and space, dripping with honest Midwest charm and a mischievous glint. It’s music that you can relax into, paired with lyrics you’ll want to chew on and savor, that ask something of their listener. These songs are proof and reminder: you don’t actually have to go anywhere at all to, you know, get somewhere.
That’s not to say the subject matters within this work are by any means easy or expected. Clementine follows a gun-totting mother up near the Taconite mines of Northern Minnesota. Deals go horribly wrong on the street corner in Lake Street Hustle. The cosmic, primordial soup mixes with wildflower seeds in Some Reason. These epic tales swirl alongside summertime swimming holes, interstate drives, fishing trips with Dad, and unlikely marriage proposals. All of it, grounded and cohesive in the hands of a locked-in rhythm section (Chris Grey on drums and Lauren Anderson on bass) playful lead guitar (producer Erik Koskinen) the warm hum of an organ (Frankie Moscow), and of course, Luke Callen’s confident finger-picking and weathered vocal delivery.
This no-frills arrangement style is like a drink of water for those of us who crave something real and honest to listen to. The sonic palette pays homage to a whole plethora of elements endemic to the American music tradition without feeling derivative or landing too hard on any one side of the genre question. Sure, fans of John Prine, The Band, or Randy Newman will undoubtedly hear traces of Callen’s biggest influences, but there’s a modern assessment within the music that is the distinct voice of an artist coming into his own and sharing stages with fellow pickers and balladeers like Charlie Parr and Margo Cilker.
This album is Callen’s strongest recorded work yet – but even so, his work isn’t the type to get puffed up or ahead of itself. “The highway begins where it always ends/on the same goddamned street” he sings, a throwback to the title of the thing, which seems to be said with a wink and wiley understanding of the world in which we live today. Ultimately, Callen never strays from this central theme: our ordinary lives are noteworthy, and that miraculous, strange, beautiful things are happening around us all the time. We just need to take a seat, stay a while, and insist on using our attention for good. The album lands in the streams on February 2nd, 2024.