If you’ve followed this blog over the past year, you know I am a big fan of all things of the YouTube channel OutsideXtra. Luke Westaway, one of the hosts of the show, started releasing his own music back in 2018.
His first album – Short Songs With Long Titles – was exactly what it says on the tin, with the longest track clocking in at 2:38 and the shortest a mere 13 seconds, but all of them delightful little melodies with clever lyrics. If I remember correctly (I mean, I could take the 12 minutes right now and listen to the album to verify…okay, yes verified), the only instruments on the album are the piano and Luke’s voice. Very stripped down, just the basics. The word “charming” comes to mind.
In 2019, Luke released another collection of tunes with Basically Afloat. As he “warns” the listener in the first track, this collection is going to be a bit different. Luke starts to dabble in drums and guitar, experimenting with the mixing software and mimicking some of his favorite artists, like punk band Pup. His lyrics focus on his mental health, from the adorable ‘Mental Health Is Less Grim If You Pretend It’s Old Boats‘ to the very personal Don’t Wait Until 2016 To Get Therapy and the lovely, meandering melancholy of watching a year fly before your eyes with Seasons (my favorite track). While all of these songs are very personal, I think a lot of us listening identified with the struggles Luke described in his lyrics. The honesty shone through and it was clear that he was getting more comfortable not just as a musician but as a lyricist. If you were listening by the end of this album, you were a fan of the music.
In early 2020, Luke released Model Ships and Difficulty Spike, two hard-rocking songs focusing on the day to day struggles of being an adult and trying to find the fun in life, be it forcing yourself to embrace a new hobby or just viewing everything as a game to explain the day to day grind.
Later in 2020, Luke released another song, one that was very on-brand after spending much of early lockdown playing Animal Crossing New Horizon on livestreams, a rocker about how the game helped him escape the reality of the world – Meet Me At Velma’s Grave.
Why did I just describe his entire discography? Because I am always impressed when an artist keeps growing and changing. It’s a good sign, a sign of someone who truly loves what they are doing and wants to create something that is both extremely personal but entertains so many.
Last month, Luke released Creature of Habit, a 4 song EP that proves just that. His continued evolution as an artist is evident from the very first track – the piano isn’t alone for long, the guitar comes running into the room quickly and soon you have drums and bass. The mix is clear and I can hear all the parts AND Luke’s voice.
Creature of Habit, the first track, is another great song that is open and honest about mental health. While Luke is singing about his very personal experience with OCD, I think a lot of us were nodding along immediately when he sang “I feel my age, and I feel my youth – I feel too much, that’s the truth”. Every line of this song is quotable and I want to just type out all the lyrics for you right now but just listen and enjoy.
Lockdown Song April 2020 has a great stripped feel but the acoustic guitar is joined with some light tambourine. The song is very personal and anyone that lived through 2020 will listen to it over and over and have a unique reminder of that summer was like and how no matter how much you tried, every damn conversation came right back to the virus. I’m so glad he released this officially because the little tease in the Spring of 2020 was such an earworm but of course it disappeared from Instagram after a day. It will be a unique artifact in my music library.
What A Mess is an ode to a messy computer desktop. This one has some fun stuff in the mix, with some aggressive acoustic guitar strums and Luke’s voice getting to a higher and higher as he tries to come to terms with the mess and recover all the files lost when he didn’t bother to shutdown Photoshop. It makes me laugh…which is good because the next song is a gut punch.
Lockdown Song – December Reprise might be one of the most moving two minutes I’ve listened to in a long time. When we listened along with Luke during the album release stream, everyone had the same reaction – why am I crying? The song has moved from the bright sound of the acoustic guitar to piano, which creates a very somber air at the start. When Luke sings the bit about “taking grandad to the pub while the turkey is in the oven” and wondering if the true spirit of the season is “just a hug from my mum” – those lines hit hard, as we all are still sitting at home, many of us wondering when we can hug our family and friends again and feel like we’re not tempting fate. The song ends with no resolution, just a note hanging…as it should, since we are still living with the virus, three months into 2021 and counting…
If you have Spotify, you can listen to the entire EP there along with all of Luke’s music. You can buy all his music from Amazon and iTunes and pretty much anywhere else digital music is sold.