LUKE JORGENSEN – Remember My Name
The BoDeans are arguably one of the best-known groups Wisconsin has produced. Luke Jorgensen takes his cue from one-half of that singer/songwriter team, channeling a fair Sammy Llanas impersonation on his debut Remember My Name. He has the growl but not the whine, which is actually fortunate since he lacks a Kurt Neumann to play off of. For the most part he handles the vocals well, but it’s so unusual to hear a singer/songwriter record nearly devoid of backing vocals that it almost seems he forgot something in the studio. But that is about the only thing he forgot, as all the elements are in place—piano, mandolin, a screaming electric guitar and slide guitar, and a rhythm section that includes both electric and upright bass.
I’m an admitted sucker for the upright bass; every song that uses it is cooler for having done so. It sounds right at home alongside the mandolin and violin of “Colorado,” a song as sweeping and expansive as the state it is named after, but it comes as a surprise in the funky “Bjam.” The thumping low end in the midst of the wah-wah guitars and the dance party drums is the only thing that keeps the song from careening into Jason Mraz/John Mayer territory. The job of keeping it real on the title track, which also features the most Llanas-like vocals, is handled by the piano which opens it, though I can’t help but wish Jorgensen had held back on the rest of the instrumentation, which eventually buries it.
It says something that Jorgensen includes a U2 song in the mix, which I didn’t even realize until I looked at the liner notes. However, I’m still not sure exactly what it says. “Running to Stand Still” comes from Joshua Tree, the record that effectively ended my affair with the band just as they found mainstream success. Though they eventually lured me back with Achtung Baby, I still contend, to the consternation of every fan I know, that every song on that record sounds the same. In Jorgensen’s case, it chameleons itself into sounding like every song on his record. That detour is followed by “Finding Yesterday,” an unadorned and pretty ballad of piano and voice. The keys show up again on “Something Strange,” a ridiculously catchy pop song that again brings to mind the BoDeans’ early hits. Unfortunately, the chorus of “In time you’ll see you’re the girl of my dreams” has stalkerish overtones that I’m sure were unintentional.
Jorgensen thanks Minneapolis-based Winterland Studios “for making all my projects sound amazing.” The praise is deserved; this record is as well produced as those of their better-known clients, such as Keane, Lenny Kravitz and Alanis Morrisette, while falling into the same genre as their local patrons GB Leighton and the Big Wu. Considering the appetite of college kids for this type of music, it is surprising Luke Jorgensen isn’t a better-known name in Madison.