Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Luke Winslow-King takes us into ragtime territory with a burgundy voice, so much chill in his step and his playing, and then makes it possible for us to lose all track of time and century. Suddenly, we're lifted out of any room that has a cellular phone charger, a computer or a high definition screen in it, and we're thrown into an era that doesn't exist any longer. We're thrown into an era where little boys in the Bronx were trolling the streets, hoping to see Babe Ruth hung over and on his way to the ballpark so they could beg him to hit a homerun for them; an era when people owned just two pairs of shoes - one for work and one for church; an era when sugar was rationed. These are eras that are gone and they've been gone for almost a hundred years, places that we've only seen in black and white photographs, being enjoyed by scary-looking old folks who have long ago stopped being mourned for.
Winslow-King, a musician originally from Cadillac, Michigan, who now resides in New Orleans, sounds as if he's a learned young man in all of the antiquated, but most soulful and vibrant principles of songwriting, winding us through the blues, R&B, dirty, rotten garage rock, swampy rock, ghostly structures of Spanish guitar and graveyard shifts in collusion and all of the disciplines that our grandparents danced to when they were teenagers in the 1930s, looking to hook up or whatever it was that they called it back then.
He and his band (Esther Rose on Washboard and Cassidy Holden on Bass) combine all of these feelings and influences into a jubilant medley of gritty lyrics, tuba booms, ass-rattling bass lines and soloing guitar flurries that make a sound that is for those who have waited too long for romance and are always seduced by the sway and flutter of a huggable melody. He's at no shortage of these strokes of near-criminal inspirations of often forgotten styles and tones that are as contagious as the flu when taken in. He lets them start sweet and get sweeter as they sound as authentic as they come, allowing us to feel about them that they must have been born long ago, borrowed from that other time because everything about them seems to be perfectly suited, not fabricated in any kind of conditioned and purposeful attempt to recreate the beloved vernacular via olden genre. Winslow-King waltzes us through these succinct bursts of color and instantaneous pleasure and makes us not want to return to the future.