Local songwriter Luke Cunningham has a knack for crafting solid rock songs. His affinity for classic power-pop and Americana-rock are quite evident on his new solo collection, Heart Pressure. Fans of Cunningham's previous project, indie-pop band Part Time Heroes, will dig the melodic twists, clever wordplay, and crashing guitar hooks from song to song.
In the vein of recent works by Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Kings of Leon, jangly guitars chime and sizzly cymbals wash across a pair of anthemic lead-off rockers, "For the Best" and "January Air." The slower "Faith in Me" marks the first of four sappier ballads, some of which resemble the mildest hits of the alternative pop charts of the mid '90s.
The sorrowful, stripped-down acoustic guitar-based ditty "Songs About California" stands out as one of Cunningham's more emotionally vulnerable moments as a singer. Peppered with extra slide guitar and mandolin, "Ones We Loved Before" carefully straddles the country and pop sides of the album. "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" is the feistiest rock tune of the bunch.
Producer and guitarist Micah Nichols (also of Crowfield) deserves praise for creating a balanced and shimmering production touch on Heart Pressure. The crisp quality of the backing instrumentation complements Cunningham's plain-man singing and laid-back style. There's hardly any bluster or angst on Heart Pressure, but there is plenty of charm and grace. (lukecunninghammusic.com)