For over nine years, songwriter, performer and producer Luke Dowler has been building a prolific body of work from the mountains of northwest Montana. He plays Fratter’s Nov. 26th.
A gifted and expressive artist, Dowler has released several EPs, LPs and singles, selling records independently through engaging performances and a knack for memorable hooks.
There’s a common thread running through all his tunes – one of striking genuine sensibilities and a raw honesty and he can’t be really confined to a single genre – there are splashes of pop, rock, and folk that influence his array of tunes. He’s also a busy guy, averaging more than 110 shows a year. He has also performed across the U.S., Australia, Europe and Canada both as a solo artist and with a full band.
In 2011, he became known for his socially consciousness with the single Silence Is Shameful. A poignant look at human trafficking, the video has amassed about 50,000 views and continues to find new audiences worldwide.
Signing to EMI/Dream Records in 2012, Dowler released the rock/pop album Polarized – the title track of which is outstanding in its shimmering pop/rock sensibilities (the video is a hoot, too.) After a subsequent U.S. and Canadian tour, Dowler moved on from the label to continue to pursue his creativity. After recording past projects in Nashville, Portland, Los Angeles, Amarillo, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin, Dowler returned to his ‘DIY’ roots building his own studio in Montana.
He later began to work on his latest project, a four EP collection: WEST, NORTH, SOUTH and EAST. Each one would have its own themes and musical identity.
Dowler produced and played all the instruments on WEST, which was released in late 2013 and featured a collection of songs diverse in style and subject matter but held together by the theme of moving forward into new territory. “WEST came about after leaving the record label, and it’s sort of about me asking the question what next,” he explains. Things kick off beautifully with the sonically-stunning Firewater Revelation which literally grabs the listener and doesn’t let go for a second. Dowler than explores his soulful side with Good Enough, and things take on a lovely, acoustically-rich tone with College Towns.
“It’s an exciting project to undertake. NORTH is centered around themes of adventure and risk; while SOUTH has more of an ‘earthy’, folk-rock feel that explores heartache.”
That project’s first single, You Are My Home, is yet another masterpiece – Dowler shows an exemplary talent for fusing insightful lyrics with compelling melodies.
He added that, “EAST will be much different. It will be full-circle; drawing on the energy of my first band’s ska-pop punk roots and inspired by a love of pop, Motown and big band.” Dowler hopes to release EAST next March, with SOUTH to follow tentatively by summer of 2015.
In early 2014, Dowler took a break from recording the EP project for his first European tour and while overseas, he also released the infectious single Heart Attack and filmed the video. The tune showcases Dowler’s versatility – here’s an artist that can show such striking depth via his music, but he’s also not afraid to kick back and have loads of fun with a polished, lighter-than-air pop song as well.
Looking back, Dowler knew pretty early on that music was indeed his thing.
“My dad was in the military so we moved quite often,” he recalls. Music was something that didn’t change – and it was essentially a friend in those years in particular. “It was the one thing I could take from place to place. I grew up listening to the radio and around a very young age I remember saying that this is what I wanted to do.”
He found his mom’s old guitar and a path was set. A Beach Boys record and an Elvis Presley collection of greatest hits was given to Dowler on his sixth birthday by his grandparents, and he soaked in the exciting sounds. “I wore them out – they were all I listened to. I credit my love for music to my grandfather who was a St. Louis jazz, big band type of guy. So I kind of dove into it from there.”
A number of forays into music followed, including a wonderfully-crafted Christian record, Compared to You, which was released in 2010. To Dowler, maintaining a versatility is very important. After all, a person’s tastes in music can be incredibly complex and diverse, so why not reflect it via one’s artistic strengths?
Meanwhile, with the remaining EPs’ future release dates being firmed up, producing projects and a busy touring schedule, Dowler continues to build an impressive body of work that refuses to be categorized by just one genre or sound.