While Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter Luke Dick’s base of operations is currently New York City, it doesn’t mean he’s completely left his Okie roots behind.
“Of course I miss Oklahoma. Most of my family’s from Oklahoma, so there’s always a hole in the place of them,” said Dick, who hails from the Caddo County town of Cogar.
“It seems to be that every time I come back through, there’s always some new thing, especially Oklahoma City. That seems to be in a heavy development phase and the arts community seems to be burgeoning with it. It’s always exciting to come back and see the changes and be a part of it.”
Dick recently got a chance to see some of those changes firsthand, having performed at Belle Isle Restaurant & Brewery and Grandad’s Bar this past November. He was reminded of how different Oklahoma audiences are from those in New York.
“I played Thanksgiving in Oklahoma and where I played, it was a pretty rowdy crowd,” he said. “It’s fun. You’re yelling and it’s a barroom crowd who are there to have fun and you have to earn their respect and attention — which is fine with me. I kinda like fighting for the crowd.”
Between touring and recording, Dick is also finding time to celebrate the upcoming release of his latest album, Abraço, which he called a significant departure for him.
“Abraço is kind of a psychedelic-rock throwback to records that I grew up on, things like Harry Nilsson and Elton John,” Dick said. “It’s songwriting from what I consider a songwriter’s perspective: You know where the chorus is and you know what the lyrics are about. I look at a song like ‘Rocket Man,’ for instance, and [John] took it to the moon and back,” Dick said. “In the past, I wouldn’t dare write a song about the Big Bang and the unfolding of the universe, whereas on this record, I don’t hesitate to do that at all.”
But beyond the freedoms of his newfound writing style, Dick said he’s also trying to capture a certain maturity of mood that he hasn’t been able to before.
“Mood-wise, the record is more hearthy. That is, it’s about things like the everyday aspects of my life, and what I’m thinking about: my daughter, my relationship to my family, my relationship to the city I live in, and my relationship to the universe,” Dick said. “These things are not a caricatured aspect of me, whereas songs I’ve written in the past, those have been caricatures.”
The fear of alienating his fans by introducing such radically different material might worry other performers, but Dick said the response so far has been “quite good.” And he said the approach is resonating with audiences.
“I’ve changed the arrangements and the way I play music live to accommodate what I’m doing now,” Dick said. “When you bring everything down a notch and you’re playing an acoustic guitar, the ambient sounds that are meant to invoke these certain images, it becomes something more special, something more … sacred.”