Zachary Lucky Live At The APK (Oct. 16th, 2013)

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Stumbling in just shy of seeing the first act, I order a pint of Pabst and make myself comfortable for Zachary Lucky’s set at the APK, for his stop over in London on his cross Canada tour. Armed with his trusty mid-sized parlour guitar (with open headstock tuners, for those interested), a trucker’s hat and his dewy croon, Zachary compels with his own brand of demure country-western spells.

Performance: 4/5
Setlist: 4/5
Opener: n/a
Crowd/Venue: 3.5/5

Fresh from Saskatoon on a lengthy cross-Canada tour with Alanna Gurr, Zachary is aided by his partner in crime on pedal steel, adding tasteful embellishments that help orchestrate this country native’s soft spoken tunes. Key highlights from his newly released album, The Ballad of Losing You (available on bandcamp here: http://zacharylucky.bandcamp.com/) include the touring hymnal, More Than Enough Road, and the Townes Van Zandt influenced cut, Woke Up. His lyrics are simple, focused, and earnest, making his performance a reserved but intimate experience. Thoroughly Canadian, his voice recalls a brisk prairie morning on a farm before the chores are done, when the sun is barely risen over the rusted wheat dawn. All hyperbole aside, his timbre greatly suits his slow, winding melodies in a style reminiscent of a more country Gregory Alan Isakov.

Turning to his album, which I had listened to through sheer serendipity a few weeks before the show, The Ballad Of Losing You is marked by a decidedly anachronistic approach. Recorded to tape, subtly colouring the album with surface noise and all the warmth you could ask for, these 10 tracks blend greatly in a way that affords his audience a seamless listen. His voice translates well to the live bar room feel, but adopts a much more intimate take when listening to the recordings on a lonesome Saturday evening.

Although it occurs to me his repertoire could benefit from a change in tempo, his sound is surprisingly mature for his age. One can only imagine what his stories might sound like paired with the soft harmony of a young Canadian Emmylou Harris to bolster his silvery harmonies. Ending his set with a selection from his previous album, Saskatchewan, the venue itself, despite the chattering crowd, paired itself well with his woozy country tunes. With a warm stage presence and a calm but reassured approach to this modern blend of country, Zachary Lucky does the prairies and his hero Townes Van Zandt proud.

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