Update 2018: the Amazon links in this article are no longer valid, but Luke still maintains his page at http://www.reverbnation.com/lucasjohnson.
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to listen to 11 original songs from from a musician in a small town in Pennsylvania. That small town is Corry, PA, and it’s my home town. The musician? Lucas Johnson. The album? “Love.”
Lucas Johnson plays acoustic guitar and sings on the album, with a few tracks highlighting other talents. It has a morose, blues sound to it, with the edge of someone who grew up falling asleep to grunge rock. Some people may not like the effects on the voice, and some of the compression of a low-budget produced album comes through on the cymbals of the first track, but for an album made with a few friends, the guitar playing and lyrics stand out enough to keep you driving onward to each next track. Alongside creative lyrical witticisms like “the only soul you bear / is through the hole in your socks,” the album pushes and pulls the listener in several directions, all of which contribute to that all mixed up inside feeling that you feel Lucas had to be going for.
“Love” is an album written by a United States Army veteran, who is now back home raising a family – and the album doesn’t shy away from that. Hey Mother is one of my most favorite tracks on the album, because it absolutely reflects the attitude I’ve heard from dozens of veterans: I appreciate your concern, but I want you to trust me: I’m going to get through this. “This,” in this case, is the one noun that changes depending on the person, but a lot of times it may have to do with their reintroduction to “normal life” – life outside of a warzone. It may have to do with a traditional young man pushing back, ever so slightly, on their parents who might be concerned that they’re getting married too soon. It might have to do with a person dealing with a break up or another mess in their personal life – but he has confidence that things will come out all right.
A local favorite, when Lucas is seen in a pub playing with a band, is often White Trash as Ever. Although he plays it with a bit of reluctance, there is no denying the guitar comes alive in this deeply personal song. “Post traumatic slash bi-polar / is most of what I am / everything I’ve built up / just like castles in the sand.” Christian overtones come through on the album, but they’re still the feelings of a lost man. Confused, wondering where he stands between agnostic and angry, but finding comfort in his religion at times when almost nothing else will soothe his soul. The catchy strumming makes you want to listen to the album over and over, and the way Lucas lays it all out on the table makes this one of the most raw albums I’ve ever heard.
The album was once handed to me in the form of a CD by Luke himself, and I’ve very recently re-purchased it on Amazon. I encourage you to do the same. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear what someone is genuinely thinking, not what their producer wants them to think, not what their friends want them to say, but what is really running through the mind of one man, who doesn’t want to cut you to the core, but doesn’t have much control over that once you listen to the album. You can download more free tracks and get more information on ReverbNation.com/LucasJohnson.