Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Luka BloomCompass CPS4586
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****


Luka Bloom was born Kevin Barry Moore in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, in 1955, and took his stage name after moving to the US in 1987. "Luka" was supposedly chosen for Suzanne Vega’s song of that title, while "Bloom" stems from the main character of James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses. The folksy singer-songwriter has but a hint of his native accent in This New Morning, and it is an easy record in which to become immersed.

While many contemporary singer-songwriters sound alike to me, I found Luka Bloom’s latest album more rewarding than most. Though it’s easy on the ears when played as background or ambient music, close attention reveals Bloom’s singing to be quite refined, and his lyrics to be substantive and significant, in contrast to the trite lyrics peddled by many aspiring singer-songwriters. Twenty- and thirtysomething angst is nowhere to be heard, as Bloom’s 57 years of wisdom shine through with an almost resigned quality.

"Heart Man" is my toe-tapping favorite of these 14 original compositions, and a perfect example of the genre-straddling style that Bloom adopts. Strumming guitars underlie Bloom’s cultured vocals as he croons "A wise man once told me / give a little thanks to all your enemies / they teach me / how to let go / how to be free / how to find the better side of me." A harmonica flits in the background, to add a dash of folk to what is otherwise a casual indie-rock song.

As light and playful as "Heart Man" is, "Capture a Dream" follows up with a more ruminative tone, giving the album greater dimensionality. A flute purrs in and out of a tune largely propelled by a number of violins, Bloom’s clean singing, and his ever-present guitar. The sound quality is commendable, if not quite as grain-free and effortless as the best recordings these days. At the same time, Bloom’s singing is terrific, and the sound quality is more than good enough to let his talent be heard.

That talent lies not only in Bloom’s voice, but in his lyrics as well. In "A Seed Was Sown" he touches on Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Ireland, the first in her 60 years on the throne. He sings of the tsunami that devastated Japan in March 2011 in "Gaman," a slow, somber track in which Bloom’s rich voice delves into the destruction at Fukushima. Gaman, Japanese for patience or perseverance, is an appropriate word for this album. What first sounded to me like a simple singer-songwriter with an accent yielded many dividends over subsequent hearings. While the overall sound quality leads to an experience that is a touch soft and kind, it is emblematic of Bloom’s musical perspective, one marked by decades of accrued knowledge, of both the musical and life variety. This New Morning offers listeners quite a musical odyssey, and aptly lives up to Bloom’s namesake.

. . . Hans Wetzel