Gary Lucas & Jann Klose – Stereopticon
The culmination of three years of collaboration between Gary Lucas and Jann Klose, Stereopticon hit the streets on January 8, 2016.
You’ll be forgiven if you’re not as aware of these fine musicians as you wish you were.
Guitarist Lucas is well known for his work with Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley. Throughout his career, though, he has released 25-plus solo albums; Stereopticon was the first of three discs scheduled for early 2016 release. Lucas currently plies his rock guitar hero trade across several active musical products crossing various genres.
Singer-songwriter Klose is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning musician, as well. Recently, he was featured as the singing voice of Tim Buckley in the 2012 film Greetings From Tim Buckley. And his most recent solo album, Mosaic, which I reviewed here a few weeks ago, won three 2014 Independent Music Awards.
Album Review of Gary Lucas & Jann Klose: Stereopticon
If you’re a fan of mid-range, strumming guitar pop/rock, you’ve found the gem you’ve been looking for. Acoustic guitar rock with no more than a hint of folk, perhaps only because of the acoustic guitar, which occasionally mellows out the overriding soft-to-medium rock singer-songwriter vibe. I’m familiar with Jann’s work through the years, and he lives and thrives in this sweet spot, adding other influences for spice. Stereopticon delivers on the promise of this musical style, producing several strumming-guitar-rock potential-hits.
The album opens like an old friend, snapping its fingers and sidling in with a warm strum and crystal clear vocals on “Fair Weather.” “Secret Wings” follows, similar in style but with a hint more energy and an engaging, uneasy musical tension in its intro that’s repeated in a couple others spots within the song.
One of the more energetic songs on the disc is “Well of Loneliness,” offsetting some abrupt acoustic guitar riffs with smooth crooning and a sax bridge to create a catchy package.
“Take Your Medicine” follows with a catchy opening guitar riff that flows into a gritty strained vocals, showing again why Gary and Jann are such an exceptional pairing.
A couple songs later, “Jewel Julia” is an engaging, powerful number that feels like perhaps a slightly louder companion to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” employing the same energy arc and emphatic drinking-song style.
Toward the end of the disc is “Mary Magdalene,” a tune that climaxes with some of the roughest energy on the disc. This track has garnered some interest within the music industry; it’s clear why, as it has a unique, striking energy.
In the end, Stereopticon is a collection of catchy soft-to-mid-tempo acoustic guitar rock songs that will be a long-valued member of any rock fan’s album collection, offering a well-constructed progression of music that will spawn a different few favorites for each listener; it’s a disc without weak spots, allowing for a satisfying listen from beginning to end.
You can find upcoming gigs for Gary Lucas on his website, and for Jann Klose on his. Per their posted concert schedules, during the coming month, Gary has events in Silver Springs, MD on March 5th and in Brooklyn on March 18th. The only gig Jann currently has booked in March is in Vernon, NJ on March 18th.