"David Lutes is a musician. At the age of 4, he started performing melodies on the piano that he’d heard peripherally in the background. By adulthood, he was accomplished on the guitar, mandolin, bass and drums. With these natural gifts and poetic sensibilities, there was no question as to whether or not he would play and write music. Despite that, he tried a professional career (as a lawyer, no less), but music returned as his element of exposure or, in his words, a way of processing the world. For David Lutes, the range of human emotions, experiences and regrets are served in song. David’s music translates as an antibody that seems to negate poisons in the atmosphere. His newest double EP release, Big Top Vol. 1 & 2, communicates newfound peace after the birth of his first child, a daughter named Ruby. Central to its message is hope, and the record exudes this guiding sentiment to listeners. Have you listened to “You Belong (In Pearls Tonight),” track 3 on Vol. 1? Or even Vol. 2 standout “Stay Awhile”? These songs stand in such stark contrast to melancholic tunes that it’s hard to imagine a world without personal cheer, calm, and clarity. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, David spent his earliest years listening and playing music alongside a family of songsters and aficionados. If you have heard any music penned by Lutes, you would correctly expect that his parents raised him on 60’s-70’s folk-rock, jazz, and R&B. He was familiar with all the great last names before he turned 10, including Simon, Wilson, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Davis and Coltrane, Redding, and Wonder. However, equal in importance to his style is Texas. The roots of Texas music are strong and deep, and living a childhood underneath so much sky tends to give music a soaring sonic quality. The instrumentation on Big Top emphasizes that heady atmosphere, stacked with David’s own sense of endless inspiration. The first mention of David Lutes in the music scene began with “Plumtucker,” his musical alter-ego and the original name for his band. Meant as a moniker to umbrella all of the talented players on his two previous records and in live performances, David has often toured internationally under the name. Plumtucker also serves as reference to his exhaustive spirit in songwriting- never allowing rest when he had a spark of insight. Another question may be asked of the recordings: why the choice for double EP’s? This option is more and more common as artists extend their musical tastes, sometimes overlapping genres. For Lutes, the two predominant genres on Big Top are Americana and pop. Vol. 1 contains elements of Lutes’ Americana-roots background, clearly displayed on “Love in the Hard Times.” Vol. 2 exercises his interest in pop music, where experimentation is expected, and is modeled best by “Rooftop.” Big Top features ample opportunities for listener captivation, as each individual song is wholly memorable. Standouts such as “Fine Line” and “The Wheel” are wistfully crafted in gossamer, lighter than air. Steady syncopations lead “Ginny On Fire,” “Be Reasonable,” and “We Love Me,” while “Lucia’s Song” is a genuine spring of color-rich lyrics. The production value on Big Top Vol. 1 & 2 heightens David’s other talent: his fine ear for opulent melodies. Indicative of his talents, David has recently been nominated for “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the 2009 Texas Music Awards. Since an early age, Lutes has been a musician. Where it was once a peripheral need, it is now a defining purpose. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” - Emily Dickinson
Recent Review Excerpts: “Like the ringmaster at the circus, Lutes separates the different performances on the two-disc Big Top allowing each to take a moment in the spotlight. Moving from haunting (the opener “Lucia’s Song”) to roots rock (”Love in the Hard Times”), Lutes meticulously weaves melodies together while the second volume can be equated to the lion-tamer act. It’s flashy and dangerous, with room for the occasional flare of the unexpected. Diving head-first through syncopated pop (”Ginny On Fire” and “We Love Me”) before landing into the net of “Fine Line,” Lutes’ voice is continuously smooth like an amalgamation of Lindsey Buckingham and Lyle Lovett.”
- Nichole Wagner, Austin.com
“You always hear talk of how artists are a mixture of different styles, but with Lutes, that’s actually true. The first disc features the familiar twang of Texas country, but mixes in dissonant electric guitar, traditional hymn-like vocal melodies and some powerful pop hooks. These two CDs are a perfect recipe for a lazy summer day, a lazy rainy day or pretty much any time you’ve got an hour and a half to lounge around the house and listen to some great music. These gems, the music that actually makes it worth your time to listen to all these discs, are what keeps me going. Hopefully you’ll feel the same.”
- Robert Rich, Austin Dischord
Previous notes from Lucky Boyd:
Following the 2006 release of Plumtucker's (aka David Lutes) critically-acclaimed, first album, LIGHTNING WHEELS, David, a TMA finalist for Singer-Songwriter of the Year in 2006-07, began touring more and more extensively, loading his trusty Leach and Martin guitars into backseats, overhead bins, and ferry lockers, playing to enthusiastic audiences, and gaining a loyal fan base both nationally and abroad. After several national tours and his return from a third European tour last August, which included stops at top venues all over England, Scotland, and Wales and a week at Edinburgh's famed International Arts Festival Fringe, the world's largest arts and music festival, David had amassed a sizable collection of live recordings. Culling through the shows, David, along with his producer, Boo Macleod, produced a dynamic live, solo album, SOLO STAGES, which, though taken from several different performances (Eddie's Attic in Atlanta, The Half Moon in Bishops-Stortford, UK, and The Green Note in London, UK), flows like one intimate evening with David, his award-winning songs, soaring voice, masterful guitar playing, and some of his stories. David kicked off the release in February 2008 with a show at the world-famous Cactus Cafe and a performance and interview on Austin's award-winning radio show, “Eklektikos with John Aielli” on 90.5FM, KUT.
Review by Lucky Boyd
David Lutes is Plumtucker. (Yeah, David, I broke the code!) David Lutes is talented. No code required. A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and vocalist, Lutes dons his musical persona and cranks out masterful creations. Lutes has a commanding mastery of his voice and truly uses it as an instrument on this thirteen cut gem. (11 plus Prologue and Epilogue) This album is an epic production, defying genre lines at every turn and giving the listener a feel-good comfort throughout the 51-minute runtime. Plumtucker is indeed an elevated talent. Sitting a notch above the droves of singer/songwriters who want but never act, Lutes has redefined the brass ring. While Lutes' arrangements may be a bit difficult to duplicate live, it's of no real consequence. Plumtucker will still be a great show to see, whether you catch the solo version or the multi-instrumental ensemble. A number of excellent musicians make cameo contributions to the album, adding to the Plumtucker experience. Great songs, great album. Get it now!
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