Luca Bash’s Single Drops EP is a little like having a quick conversation with someone you meet while escaping a party to get some fresh air. The ensuing meeting doesn’t give you a complete picture of this person, and there isn’t really time to grasp his complexities (if any), but the simplicity of the encounter is refreshing if fleeting. Bash’s uncomplicated offering blends his personality and imagination with a serviceable acoustic core—musically less engaging than it should be, but rich in insight if one cares to delve.
It’s fitting to talk about blending, as that’s essentially how Single Drops came to be. The five-song EP is the result of a collaboration with longtime partner Giovanni “Giova” Pes, a sort of logical next step to their CMYK project. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key Black, four EPs released over the course of 2014. Why the theme? Because those are the four elementary colors in a printer that form a complete picture—in this case, of Bash’s emotional and musical evolution. I admit I was skeptical at first; it’s one thing to throw together a symbol, but another entirely to create something worth symbolizing.
What we have with Single Drops, then, is four intriguing facets of Luca Bash arranged around a new song, “Your Tomorrow”. It’s the inevitable centerpiece by virtue of being new, and in coming first sets the tone for the rest of the EP. The melody ambles along with minimal ornamentation, a gentle accompaniment to Bash’s baritone—though his voice is slightly overbearing at times given the lullaby theme of the piece. Bash and Pes are competent if not particularly distinctive on the guitar, matching the music to the comforting yet firm atmosphere of the lyrics: the story of a mother praying that her child will have the strength to face life’s troubles. It vacillates between 7/8 and 4/4—an unconventional tempo that, according to Bash, reflects a child’s difficulty understanding his future and his surroundings. It’s thematically appropriate and intriguing, but doesn’t translate well to the casual listener.
This “tip-of-the-iceberg” approach characterizes this entire album, for better or for worse, and Bash is nothing if not earnest in this artistry. He draws every one of Single Drops’ songs from a personal challenge, experience or question, true to the theme of his recent musical projects. And his voice is a pleasure, every word infused with Italian-accented emotion; one gets the sense that he recorded each song immediately after waking from a dream that inspired it. His acoustic guitar shapes the mood precisely to the lyrics, most effectively on “Little Tale”, a soaring yet melancholy ode to opportunities that go unseized. “Walk, run, leap, blindly into a circle,” Bash laments, and it’s easy to lament with him. He’s similarly evocative in “Black Swan’s Walls”, a fast, feisty anthem for those who have trouble expressing themselves.
If only the rest of the album seized as effectively. Like reading a book after seeing a film that fails to capture its nuances, some cursory research on Bash reveals layers on layers of inspiration that don’t come across quite as strongly in his instrumentation. The bittersweet “Forever Like Asleep” and “Dear John” are pensive lyrically, if overly illustrative at times (“Someone says/You’re the greatest pope we have ever had”), but any intimacy comes in spite of, rather than because of, the music—mechanically bouncy in the latter and melodically plodding, verging on repetitive, in the former.
This isn’t to say that Single Drops
is bad, but rather that it feels more like an introduction to Bash’s psyche and worldview than his musical prowess. He’s certainly got plenty of it, but apart from the impassioned “Little Tale” and “Black Swan’s Walls” the colors don’t blend as well as they should. His creative voice is fascinating and his performance is sound, but this EP isn’t the gateway drug to Luca Bash it seems to want to be.