Tony Lucca, ‘Tony Lucca’ – Album Review
The problem with talent competition shows is it’s hard to decipher whether, as a viewer, you’re genuinely enjoying an artist’s individual talents or if he or she simply has the vocal capacity to skillfully cover a song you already really like. More often than not, once contestants are outside of the context of the TV show, they disappear into the ever-expanding ether of recording artists, unable to translate what was deemed success on ‘American Idol’ or ‘The X Factor’ into their own original work – and that’s not even delving into the often sticky recording contracts the contestants get stuck with after the show ends.
That could’ve easily been the case for Tony Lucca, who appeared on season two of ‘The Voice’ in 2012. On Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s team, Lucca was able to make it all the way to the Top 3 with his spirited and often unexpected covers of Ray LaMontagne’s ‘Trouble,’ Britney Spears’ ‘… Baby One More Time’ and Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems.’ While a favorite on the show, it was never a certainty that the former Mouseketeer (that’s right – Lucca, was also in the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ in the early ‘90s) would be able to maintain listeners’ interest after the curtains fell on ‘The Voice.’
Lucca attempts to do just that with his first full-length since the show. His self-titled effort arrives as a result of a Kickstarter campaign that garnered $25,000 in a day’s time, allowing Lucca to produce the album himself (an undoubtedly smart move for his first record since ‘The Voice’). He emerges with his individual point of view: deft songwriting paired with classic southern rock styling.
The Detroit-born singer-guitarist opens strong with ‘Old Girl,’ a rollicking track in the vein of the Black Crowes. And while songs like ‘Cherry’ and ‘Imagination’ demonstrate the innate pop sensibilities that have driven Lucca’s 20-year career, he also pushes his songwriting into new territory with the sweeping piano ballad, ‘North Star,’ and album single, ‘Delilah’ -- a menacing cut whose title character is vivid, with “gold in her pocket, a knife in her hand.”
But all of those standout tracks are delivered out of the gate, also making ‘Tony Lucca’ quite the top-heavy album. Lucca’s razor-sharp consistency can also be his worst enemy, as the second half of the album wanes and songs start to bleed into one another.
Nevertheless, Lucca reveals a powerful resilience, coming out of a show that tends to neuter its artists’ creative output with his own singular -- for a lack of better words -- voice.