While Tony Lucca may not be a name many around here are immediately familiar with, his impact on my own musically journey has been big.
I came Lucca’s music sometime in early 2002. As a 17-year-old, I was coming off my elite-teenage-rock-only-phase (I wore nothing but black for a couple of years) and was starting to venture into musical parts unknown. I managed to shrug aside my strange prejudices – that folky singer-songwriters were “old fashioned” and that anything with even a touch of country twang was “bad” – long enough to appreciate that I actually really enjoyed what I was hearing. So began not only a continuing appreciation of Lucca, but of many of the artists he’s worked with and others in the expanded world of Americana.
Lucca’s initial route into showbiz was an auspicious one: he was part of the Mickey Mouse Club that aired on the Disney channel in the U.S. during the early-90s (other alums include actors Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell). After a couple of years acting, he finally decided music was for him and in 1997 released his first album (to hear him talk candidly about those years, you need look no further than the song ‘True Story’ from his 2008 EP ‘Close Enough’).
Over the next 15-years, he went on to forge a career as a well respected and hard-working touring artist. He teamed up frequently with fellow musicians, most notably with Jay Nash and Matt Duke on a number of tours and collaboration records under the TFDI moniker (the phrase was first coined when they were out touring together and stands for “Totally Fucking Doing It”).
He had his chances at a breakthrough success, such as when he cover the great Daniel Johnston’s ‘Devil Town’ for the soundtrack of television series Friday Night Lights in 2007, but ultimately recorded contracts came and went through the years. It was with the idea of stepping his career up a level that in 2012 he auditioned for the second season of The Voice U.S. He made it through to the finale, but unfortunately his time on the programme got largely overshadowed by manufactured drama between himself and judge Christina Aguilera. Nonetheless, he got a record deal with his coach Adam Levine, although this too would end up being short-lived, much to Lucca’s relief (his frustration with the business that is the highly commercialised side of the music industry is chronicled in the song ‘Old Girl’ from his 2014 self-titled album).
Lucca has always been prolific at getting music to fans (my own mp3 collection comes in at around 300 tracks), and it’s interesting to note that he was a pre-social media early adopter of using the internet to interact and connect with people. This has continued, and in recent years he has crowdfunded albums, and also runs a Patron page.
In 2014, he made the move from L.A. to Nashville, as he chronicled perfectly at the time in ‘Nashville’: “Everybody’s packing up and going to Nashville / Everybody’s gonna try and write a song / The city of fallen angels turned to one big pile of broken wings / Now ain’t nobody know where they belong.”
In Music City, he has found a natural fit. Since the move he has been further honing his songwriting skills, playing residencies, and of course releasing new music. His latest release is ‘Ain’t No Storm’ is a relatively short album at nine tracks, but each packs a punch. “Remember that old Ride ‘em All that / Used to sit out back behind the garage / The one the old man used to call his tractor / We used to pretend we were race car drivers / Like dogs giving chase / Never could quite figure out what after,” are for me up there with the best opening lyrics of the year, managing to instantly transport you to the time and place they’re about.
I’m proud to say I’ve been following his career for 17-years and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
The canon: These are all of his studio recordings, although he has also released various live recordings over the years, along with Kickstarter exclusives. Also available is the TFDI side project, which currently consists of one album and four EPs.
So Satisfied (1997)
Strong Words, Spoken Softly (1999)
So Far (2001)
Through the Cracks EP (2006)
Canyon Songs (2006)
Close Enough EP (2008)
Come Around Again (2008)
Rendezvous With The Angels (2010)
Under the Influence (2011)
With the Whole World Watching EP (2013)
Drawing Board EP (2014)
Tony Lucca (2014)
Made to Shine (2015)
Ain’t No Storm (2019)
Key release/s: 2006’s ‘Canyon Songs’ album is constantly solid the whole way through, but ‘The Hustler, The Widow, And The Boy From Detroit’ stands out by hitting all the right notes in terms of Americana (“Dare you look at me that way / As the clock holds our last five minutes in its hands” is up there with my favourite ever opening lines).
‘Pretty Things’ – from 2008’s ‘Come Around Again’ – is a track Lucca has cited he is especially proud of co-writing. It’s a song about the end of a relationship, but the little details within it really help to tell the story in a unique way. Plus, when he sings, “How I wish you’d come and hold me” for the last time, you really feel it.