Luke Rathborne writes songs about life, and life is rarely simple, neat and easy. On his I Can Be One / Dog Years split-EP, to be released March 8 via Dilettante Recordings, the singer-songwriter defies today’s cookie cutter flavors, preferring to hold true to his artistic vision. It’s not about finding answers to life’s questions, it’s about shedding light on life’s experiences.
“Dog Years” MP3
Rather than muddling his music’s disparate take on the world around him, attempting to intertwine songs written under different circumstances and in different frames of mind, Rathborne decided to offer audiences his ideal window into his headscape – two EPs, each unique in their own right, as one album.
Dog Years embraces Rathborne’s more pop aesthetic – not shinny, happy pop, but effervescent, melancholic pop. The title title track offers a cynical poke to not letting the “dog years” pass you by. If you hear a bit of Dylan in the New Yorker’s tone, you aren’t mistaken. He also cites a lot of ’60s and ’70s music like The Kinks and The Beatles as impacting those early tracks, written as a teenager in Maine.
The material from the second set, I Can Be One, was penned following Rathborne’s move to New York City after high school and completed with members of Antony and the Johnsons contributing to the arrangements. Big Star and Lou Reed’s Berlin enter the realm of influences, and the material takes on a somber, darker hue. It’s title track, “I Can Be One,” is one of the tracks that led Devendra Banhart to invite Luke on tour and exclaim, “I love this young dude,” in a recent Magnet piece.
But while the tones change, the inspiration is largely the same. “All of the songs – on both EPs – are about being afraid of connecting, because connections open up the possibility of being harmed…It’s interesting that they intersect here, because I’d been playing with the idea of putting them together and seeing how they mix, but this seems a lot more pure – this is my music, this is what I want to say, and this is how I want to say it,” Luke explains.