Band of the Day

2012.06.13

Luke Temple

Mesmerizing folk-pop recorded quickly on a shoestring budget
I got a girl with poison in her bones. Takes what she needs and leaves the rest alone.
lyrics from Ophelia

Luke Temple is an American folk-pop singer-songwriter originally from Salem, Massachusetts. After some time in Northern California, he returned to Massachusetts to study painting at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Temple, who also records music under the name Here We Go Magic, moved into songwriting and recording after struggling as a visual artist. He signed to Mill Pond Records after recording a four song EP in 2004. Temple went on to record and release two full-length albums with Mill Pond, Hold a Match for a Gasoline World in 2005 and Snow Beast in 2007, before his 2011 release of Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care on Western Vinyl. Temple’s voice has drawn comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Paul Simon, and he has had music featured on the television show Grey’s Anatomy.

For a great songwriter, medium doesn't matter. Think of it as the inverse of Marshall McLuhan's theory that "the medium is the message"—a truly wonderful song transcends both its recording and the circumstances around it, standing the test of time as a transcendent piece of art. So the fact that the bulk of singer-songwriter Luke Temple's solo material was recorded straight to 4-track on a modest budget is inconsequential—Temple's songs are so strong, memorable and lyrical that they sound incredible no matter how they're recorded. His most recent album, Don't Act Like You Don't Care, was finished during a fertile run in 2009 that also produced another record released under the title Here We Go Magic. When Here We Go Magic took off, Temple built a band around the name and shelved Don't Act Like You Don't Care for two years, but the songs—played straight to a 4-track with friends from Glass Ghost and Antony and the Johnsons—are anything but mediocre. Don't Act Like You Don't Care could be filed as Temple's "country record;" songs like "Ballad For Dick George" and "So Long, So Long" feature just his gliding falsetto and strummed acoustic guitar. You can hear traces of Jeff Buckley's heavenly upper-register, Kris Kristofferson's talk-y lyricism, and Paul Simon's Afropop leanings, but it's still a completely original sound. Temple is also incredibly gifted as an arranger, and he knows when to leave a beautiful, quiet ode unadorned and where to place subtle background bells and whistles, like the chiming guitar arpeggios and choir harmony on the gentle "More Than Muscle." Some of the simplest songs on Don't Act Like You Don't Care are the best: the strained country shuffle of "How Could I Lie" and the early Dylan-like folk of "Ballad For Dick George" are perfect without any musical clutter. In fact, you could almost call his solo material Another Side of Luke Temple; it's proof that a songwriter can shine away from their main band and without a big budget.