Over the last few years the Athy crooner Jack Lukeman has established himself as one of Ireland's most remarkable live performers, delivering cabaret torch songs with a velvet-throated baritone and an earthy charisma that puts most of the country's 'superstars' to shame. So far, however, he's struggled to translate his stage performances to record - a trend that's continued on this, his third album. The lack of visual trappings highlights the weakness of Lukeman's songwriting, which frequently sounds lightweight and bland when set beside his heroes Jacques Brel and Scott Walker. Universe cruises along pleasantly enough, but ultimately it does nothing to dispel the notion that Jack L really has to be seen to be appreciated.
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