Tracks: Luke M de Zilva – ‘Even Now’/’Levelled’: lonesome and cathartic songcraft announces a major Sydney talent

Luke M de Zilva, photographed by Traianos Pakioufakis

LUKE M de Zilva is a Sydney songwriter who’s just stepped out into music under his own name for the first time; and he’s taking his debutante’s bow with a brace of tracks that will pretty much blow you away.

His thing is a quiet, rootsy devastation that, from that first, profoundly bassy and announcing syllable, quavering on the edge of falling into pure, wordless emoting, had me hooked.

Add sparse acoustic guitar, as much nudged as played, touching on the elemental evocation of Mick Turner; deftly employed piano and strings, and you have a booking at a very particular and very real heartbreak hotel in song.

Lining up alongside Luke and helping him breathe the sorrow into these debut tracks are The Preatures’ Thomas Champion, The Jezabels’ Heather Shannon; Mara Schwerdtfeger, who’s worked with the Alaska Orchestra and Lupa J; and Kate Southorn (Ani Lou).

It’s all about the deftness of feel, the dynamic, pushing for a communication of feeling that’s wonderfully naked, true, edging into dissonance but never quite falling over that side; a clever tension arising.

You can see just why and how Luke has reduced rooms to silence at his rare shows up and down Australia’s east coast, playing with Jack Ladder; Daisy Tulley, of Bridezilla, and Spike Vincent; Sydney’s Happy Mag has described him as “mercilessly captivating”. Hell, he’d floor me.

Luke says: “This two-song sampler was self-recorded at the end of summer using a collection of new and old hand-held recording devices, mostly in a 170-year-old church in Sydney’s inner-west, and also in Tasmania.”

Luke is working towards his debut album; best be braced, seated and emotionally ready.

Luke M de Zilva’s “Even Now”/”Levelled” two-tracker is out now via all digital streaming platforms.

Connect with Luke elsewhere on the web on Facebook and Instagram.

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