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Hamilton Leithauser performs at One Eyed Jacks May 12 

The Walkmen singer returns with Walker Lukens

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After six original albums with The Walkmen on songs that ranged from raging Lower East Siders ("The Rat") to Hurricane Katrina eulogizers ("Louisiana") to worldly rock ambassadors (all of Lisbon), frontman Hamilton Leithauser found himself barbershopping through a "Duke of Earl" a cappella fade on the band's crowning final release, 2012's aptly named Heaven. Where else does a raspy Rat Pack expat go from there, but to the source? "It's not the singer, it's the song," Leithauser sang on The Walkmen's Heaven-sent single "Heartbreaker," yet his solo follow-up argued otherwise: Black Hours is a revue meant to showcase not the scrapbook compositions it comprises, but the ageless voice delivering them. Working again with ex-Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij (who had collaborated on Black Hours' two loosest cuts, "Alexandra" and "I Retired"), Leithauser's second stab at the Great American Songbook hits bone. Last year's I Had a Dream That You Were Mine (Glassnote) matches that classic voice with a track list deserving of its severe croon, each of the first four songs ranking among his best: "A 1000 Times" drops a showstopping, Sinatra-worthy opener; "Rough Going (I Won't Let Up)" continues the sha-doobie doo-wop snaps of "I Retired" and "We Can't Be Beat"; and dusky guitar piece "In a Black Out" seduced its way into an Apple advertisement showcasing the new iPhone's low-light photography capabilities. In between, "Sick as a Dog" starts out as an ambling, shambling Ringo Starr piano ditty — until the final verse, when everything else dies out so Leithauser can deliver, unencumbered, the record's shining vocal, stronger, higher and truer than all the rest: "I use the same voice I always had." Walker Lukens opens. Tickets $18.


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