Concert Review: Lucas Garrett @ Caffe Lena, 12/1/2022

SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Thursday, Lucas Garrett and his band took the stage at the famed Caffe Lena. The occasion was the official release celebration for his most recent album, “Reaching through Dreams,” and for the audience that managed to tear themselves away from the Victorian Stroll that had just kicked off outside one hour previous, they were treated to two sets of excellent and varied music, including all the tracks from the aforementioned album.

Lucas Garrett (photo by Stephanie J Bartik)

Garrett knows how to pick a strong opener, and “Aphrodite” certainly fits the bill. The driving song is a good showcase for his unconventional, deep voice, and quickly shakes off any eggnog-driven malaise you might have come in with. From there it was a hard right turn into the infectious and very danceable “All Around Me.” This trend would continue for the duration of the show – Garrett doesn’t really have a single, easily-identifiable style. He clearly enjoys many different genres and incorporates them into his own catalog. He does this in a very natural way, though. He’s not a fussy guy trying to go out of his way to show you how much he knows about music. He just digs a lot of different stuff and lets it flow.

The first set featured my favorite song of the night, “So Many Times.” I like the stop/start dynamics of this one very much, and I very much dig the interplay between Garrett’s own voice and that of vocalist Madison Lewis. Lewis’ sometimes belting, sometimes gentle stylings are elevated by the stark contrast of Garrett’s Waits-ian growl, and vice versa.  Definitely a case of the total being more than the sum of its parts here, and a nod to the wisdom Garrett showed by recently asking Lewis to be a full member of his band.

(l-r) Madison Lewis and Lucas Garrett (photo by Stephanie J Bartik)

Garrett mixed in a few very interesting covers with his own material, including Talking Heads’ “Naive Melody” and Tom Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon.”  These two allowed him to stretch out and play the very understated but very impressive guitar parts that these two songs have in common. The completely unexpected “Heat Wave,” as popularized by Martha and the Vandellas, was just an in-your-face blast of good fun, full stop.

Other highlights for this listener included the second-set opener “We Can’t Go Back” (from the new record) as well as the closer “One More for the Road.” 

Lucas Garrett (right) and band (photo by Stephanie J Bartik)

I’ve seen Lucas Garrett perform twice recently, and found both shows to be extremely enjoyable and completely distinct.  If you haven’t yet had the chance to see him perform, you owe it to yourself to remedy that. And do pick up a copy of “Reaching through Dreams” – there is truly something for everybody on it.

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