It’s been a long slog waiting for the follow-up to Luca Bash’s inspired and unique 2015 quadruple EP release, Single Drops. It makes sense that Bash would take time to release Keys of Mine which, technically, is his debut album since Single Drops clearly took a massive effort to write, produce and release. That said, the indie folk community has definitely felt the gap.
While Bash is decidedly Italian in his pronunciation, there is little classical or operatic influence in his indie folk writing and composition. To listeners who don’t remember or are just hearing Bash for the first time, it’s sort of combination of Joe Cocker-esque blues, late 80s indie pop a’la Men Without Hats and Bash’s own brand of loose, jazz-infused folk which comprises his style. That, of course, and his nearly impeccable jazz guitar playing.
In Keys of Mine, Bash employs a full jazz ensemble for most tracks. This decision, of course, adds a heavy jazz and rock element to the album which may be a little shocking to fans compared to the relatively bare bones Single Drops EPs. Fans can choose which style they prefer, but it certainly signifies a change in direction for the Italian artist.
Objectively, this works in most places. Tracks like album opener “Backstage”, the folksy “Your Tomorrow” and Dave Matthews-esque “Paradise Cafe” definitely benefit from the backing band, but some fans may think tracks like “Beyond the Screen” are a bit overwhelming with the jazz and blues. Though technically well-produced, it could be seen that some of the ensemble work takes away from the emotive quality of Bash’s solo musical presence.
A good number of the tracks on Keys of Mine are reboots of tracks on the Single Drops EPs and a highlight here where the addition of the ensemble composition really works is the re-work of “Women’s Way”. The addition of female vocals and the slightly different production gives this track a whole new sound but doesn’t detract from the emotive quality of Bash’s writing and vocals. If anything it enhances it and is a great indication that Bash’s sound is evolving.
With all the new versions of tracks as well as the new songs, critics and fans alike will hope that Keys of Mine will be a good jumping stone to another album of new material from Bash in the near future. Hopefully it will be less than another two years before this happens, as the indie folk scene definitely needs Bash’s unique and evocative voice.