Southampton based duo Bo Lucas and Hayleigh King have been around for a few years now honing their skills in local shows and picking up a lot of fans and accolades on the way. This year they've added the Fender Undiscovered Artist Of The Year to the list and yet only now have they released their début self-titled album. That's a sign of people of who want to get it right, and they certainly have in this case. It's also good to see that every one of the nine songs on the album was written and performed by them, they also produced it, with only the addition of John Metcalf as drummer and engineer. Self written songs suit the the duo perfectly because they have a very distinct sound and style so can write to their strengths rather than having to adapt other people's work to fit.
The album was launched at The Green Note in London and the venue suits them perfectly. It's a small location where people come to listen to music, sitting around tables on rickety chairs. Bo Lucas has a husky voice, it has to be said reminiscent of the architypal gangster's moll. That combines well with Hayleigh King's blues driven guitar so it's easy to imagine yourself sitting in a speakeasy in Chicago. The sell out audience certainly seemed to be very much at home.
Lucas & King concentrate on their music, so there's little introduction to the song and often the title isn't given either. Occasionally there'll be a little anecdote or the background to a piece, otherwise they let the music do the talking. One song that was introduced was "Shop Girl" which has an semi-autobiographical background. It's the story of a girl working in a shop but she has dreams. She wants to get out and make something of her life rather than selling her soul, along with the goods, as a wage slave. She does, rather poignantly, become a star. Star employee of the month, that is, and her reward is a £5 credit voucher.
There are love songs on the album, "Dancing To No Music" is one such but not of romantic love. It's a sultry song with Bo's voice entrancing as she sets out a challenge for a boy to be able to keep up or move on. This track also demonstrates, as well as any, Hailey's expressive guitar playing. It certainly isn't just the backing music but an essential part of the song, setting the tone and pace for the words to weave around. This works particularly well on the beautiful slow tempo "The Heart is a Lonely Wanderer" which is driven by the guitar, sounding very crisp and fresh and projecting Bo's vocals.
"I Only See Stars" is also a song about life in the ordinary world where romance can be hard to find. This is an up tempo number with an Americana sound to it and a lyric that raises a wry smile. "I only see stars when I stand up too fast."
The songs have a timeless sound to them, ranging from that depression era blues sound to more rocky numbers that wouldn't be out of place as the slow dance at a High School hop but that doesn't mean that they're in any way old-fashioned. The characters are spiky, the situations modern and the sound very fresh. The two sets flew past and I was genuinely surprised when the last song was announced. Now settled in and with the crowd very much behind them they played the final track on the album "Nothing On You", which was getting its first public outing. It returns to that singer in a club somewhere singing that final song for the last one at the bar, the lonesome figure who can't figure their heart and is taking comfort in booze. It's an incredibly atmospheric track.
The audience had loved every minute and the applause at the end was in genuine appreciation of a memorable performance. Lucas & King, with this album, have announced their arrival as a duo to be reckoned with for both the quality of their writing and the strength of their musicianship. The album is available through their website but I would recommend going to see them if you can. Settle back with a good bourbon and prepare to be thoroughly entertained.
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