Review by Patrick Joseph
“Chasing Dreams” is a smoking new EP by virtuosic guitarist and composer Luke Stamenkovich. He demonstrates musical maturity and conceptual depth in this collection of songs which offers extreme variety without ever losing a through-line. Stamenkovich plays with a graceful touch and a phenomenal tone, adapting his sound as necessary for artistic expression. The compositions are thoughtful and well-organized, resulting in extremely engaging music. The band on this EP is unbelievable, featuring top session musicians who play for artists such as Gwen Stefani, Pink, Shania Twain and more.
This is the kind of music that sucks you in…when one song is over you can’t wait for the next one to begin. Extremely clever arrangement techniques allow these songs to cover massive amounts of ground and remain very accessible and listenable. Guitar features are abundant of course, but the songs also stand on their own as remarkable compositions. The dynamic push and pull, and the eclectic nature of this collection place it firmly in the music-lover’s bag. This EP features six tracks which I’ve elaborated on below...
The EP opener offers eerie, ominous synth tones to really grab the listener's attention. A filtered TV weatherman/newsman voice adds to the almost psychedelic feeling before low-dynamic but driving-tempo kick and snare combine with an edgy guitar to set up an ethereal, floating vibe. Then the drums bring in a huge beat with a gated snare and sweeping synthesizers creating a massive soundscape. Enter the lead guitar…A soaring solo breathes a new life into the soundscape before erupting into a virtuosic melody line as a foreshadowing of what's to come. A long, dramatic pause then builds expectation before the payoff of a massive full band rocking hard with sextuplets on the double bass drums and a searing guitar performance. This track does a great job as the overture of the EP, establishing a band sound and leaving listeners wanting more.
An emotional tone is achieved through the use of complex chords and a pensive riff. This song features a Blues shuffle in the style of Eric Johnson. A staccato harmonized guitar melody is extremely engaging and draws listeners in before hitting them with the main guitar melodic theme which features a rich tone and well placed rhythmic hits.
A halftime breakaway section allows the energy to take a dip and lets the bass player get some cool expressions in. The drummer plays some killer fills while Stamenkovich does a great job building the energy. When the melody and groove comes back we hear the theme with fresh ears and the result is amazingly impactful. Only then does Stamenkovich really let loose and allow some fireworks to fly. He seems to always have another gear he can shift into and elevate the music even further. This song is left unresolved, giving listeners the feeling of a rhetorical question.
This song features an acoustic guitar pattern that is sensitive and bittersweet. Delicate electric guitar expressions give the feeling of fleeting thoughts. Use of hemiola is fantastic and allows for a conflicted feeling. A synth pad is huge and gives the impression of a wave of emotion flooding one’s consciousness. The way the dynamic drops off a cliff in a subtle way is extremely satisfying. It feels like falling in slow motion. Harmonic motion is intricate yet very subtly done. By the time this composition culminates in an electric guitar solo, the emotional tone is so thoroughly defined that the music contains a deeper meaning. This song really showcases Stamenkoivich’s ability to compose meaningful music. “Memories” was written for Stamenkovich’s late grandparents and you can hear the emotional resolution in the performance. It is a deeply moving piece of art. Check out the great video too
Summer Days has a groove that rolls down the highway like a feel-good road trip song. The melody is uplifting and the vibe of the music is joyous yet serious. The main groove is well explored, allowing listeners the chance to really live in the music for a while before moving on. An expertly subtle B section sets up a guitar solo perfectly. There is a sophisticated sheen to this music that comes off as very organic. The masterful compositions are performed with vigor and authenticity. There is so much being offered from the soloists that the rhythm section plays this one right down the middle in the most engaging way. A fantastic contribution to the EP.
Alfred’s Coffee Jam
This song comes out of the gate like a steamroller. There is a Dixie-Disco vibe to this song that is undeniably fun. The guitar melody is so expressive that it sounds like a vocalist on this track. A very lighthearted and playful rhythmic section will have you jumping for joy with the energy it creates. A drop down bridge affords the opportunity for Stemenkovich to play some absolutely dirty blues licks. A double-time train groove brings the music to explosive heights and sets up the shout chorus fantastically. By the time we hear the A section melody again, the tune has undergone a complete life cycle, and we feel like we are visiting an old friend. A killer ending harkens back to the golden days of Instrumental composition. This song is a real barn-burner and also features LA guitarist Joshua Ray Gooch (Shania Twain).
The last track on the EP offers an ultra modern funk/fusion vibe that is super engaging. The band sounds completely locked-in over complex rhythmic figures and unison melody lines. A horn section and a keys player join Stamenkovich in the fun. An alto solo is so smooth you’ll melt while the groove simmers underneath. The rhythm section sneaks in some jaw droppers while the guitar solo builds the intensity from a simmer to a rolling boil. The band sounds absolutely massive on this track. The energy continues to build over an extended ending before settling down very gently and bringing the EP to a resolution.
Overall, “Chasing Dreams” as an EP is extremely effective in engaging an audience and delivering top-notch music. The compositions are dynamic and intricate, while the solos are show-stopping. This is very high quality instrumental music that makes an artistic statement. Luke Stamenkovich and his band of studio musicians have delivered some undeniable tunes. It's even more amazing to consider that this was recorded during the pandemic, with Stamenkovich in Australia while the rest of the musicians were stateside. We will eagerly anticipate the next release by Luke Stamenkovich, thankfully in the meantime there is an abundance for us to enjoy on “Chasing Dreams.”
About Luke Stamenkovich
Luke Stamenkovich is an Australian born guitarist, composer and educator. He
has worked nationally and internationally both in the studio and live.
He has studied both in Perth and in the United States, studying Guitar
Performance at Hollywood’s Musicians Institute and currently at Berklee College of Music.
For more information about Luke Stamenkovich, visit his website