Lucio Rubino – Lucio Rubino (2012)

Lucio Rubino has already matured through a few musical lives: Touring keyboardist with Flock of Seagulls. Hot young modern rocker signed to EMI. Top Christian act. The one he seems more interested in now? Husband and father.

Rubino’s new self-titled solo release leaves aside many of the elements that have defined his sound so far. Whereas he’s been known for brash guitars, hipster attitude, and later for faith messages, here he talks from the heart about the issues of family, relationships and life’s every-day passions. The music matches that singer-songwriter vibe, often focusing on acoustic guitars and quietly confidential vocals.

This intimacy connects Rubino with musical heroes like Jeff Buckley, in the sense that he can explore this deep fragility so fearlessly. From the anthematic opening track “Better Left Unsaid” to the happy-go-lucky lead single “Fallin’ from the Start,” from the love-struck “Promise You That” to the torrentially emotional “Truth or Dare,” Lucio Rubino aspires to much — and delivers.

For a largely stripped-down album, it’s packed with smart musical details: There’s some Amos Lee in there, some Van Morrison, some Gavin McGraw too. Rubino even credibly covers Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” — which on 1994’s Grace, the late Buckley’s only proper studio release, was magnified into new heights of lovelorn beauty.

All of that living, and finally finding his life’s commitment, has pushed Rubino into a moment that every musician hopes for: His grasp is starting to meet his reach.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.