What makes a good musician? Is it the ability to sing? The intelligence to write? The power to stand out amongst your peers? Maybe it’s having the audacity to be your most authentic, unapologetic self in an industry renowned for its tendency to shape artists into polished, shiny mannequins.

If these are the qualities one must possess to be deemed a “good” musician, Joseph Luca isn’t just good but downright impressive. The first instalment to Luca’s EP trilogy, ‘Part 1 : Ouroboros (Life)’, had some sublime moments – ‘Cupid Played Pretend’ being a personal favourite. On ‘Part 2 : Ouroboros (Death)’, the artist comes out swinging right off the bat. “I Can Pull You Up” is the type of mid-tempo synth tinged track you’d find your single friend swaying to at the end of a house party (think of a room drowning in neon lights, the ecstasy is wearing off and they’re engulfed in subdued tones of blue and purple). The compelling part about the first song is that Luca knows when to strip back the glossy instrumental, thus allowing his voice to take centre stage and letting the track naturally transition into a ballad-esque moment.

Vocal technique is important, crucial in fact, when a musician is intent on expressing emotion. Track two exemplifies Luca’s impressive higher range as he edges into an ethereal falsetto showcase over a simplistic piano melody. “Peter” simultaneously takes lyrical precedence over some other tracks on the record, proving to be almost cinematic in its description.

The production on “Just Go” is immaculate and Joseph Luca simply never fails to deliver, blessing his listeners with ad-libs that even a vocal titan like Sam Smith would admire. Luca’s sombre lyrics in contrast with the energetic beat he performs over create a fascinating juxtaposition. While there’s some articulate lyricism here, the most cliché line actually packs the hardest punch, “If you want to go, just go” is a feeling all too familiar to anyone unfortunate enough to experience love from a jaded soul.

The only (yet recurring) gripe I have with this EP is that the tracks are somewhat short in duration and there are moments I find myself yearning for another chorus. It’s quite possible that this is an artistic choice to encourage the audience to listen again, but it is something that struck me during the process of this review.

“Dirty Laundry”, the penultimate song on the EP is an introspective look into the vulnerable headspace that one can sink into following a bad breakup (romantic or otherwise). Soothing melodies, relatable subject matter and a hint of satire cement the unique nature of Track five, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were to become a career highlight for the singer.

The final message from the EP is incidentally the first single from it, “My Best Dancing Shoes”. The haunting instrumental helps Luca’s voice transcend to astronomical heights. Intriguingly, the track has an incredibly vintage glow to it, reminiscent of a groovy 70’s ballad whilst incorporating a fresh and frankly luscious instrumental.

What makes a good musician? The answer is somewhat ambiguous. However, Joseph Luca’s integrity and dedication to his craft is the epitome of authentic artistry. It’s reassuring to hear a singer dig deep into their core, sever their emotions and pour them into a record like this, leaving them laid bare for the world to interpret. ‘Part 2 : Ouroboros (Death)’ is like hopping on your favourite childhood rollercoaster, refreshing and yet deliciously drenched in nostalgia …and ultimately?

It’s one hell of a ride.

Joseph Luca: Part 2 Ouroboros (Death) – Out 16th February 2024 (ONE rpm)

Luca – My Best Dancing Shoes [Official Static Video] (youtube.com)