Cigarettes have often served as the thematic frame to notable musical works, from Otis Redding’s ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’ to Patsy Cline’s Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray’ and countless others. While the attraction to rags have rightfully waned in recent years, artists’ attraction towards invoking their imagery into their work hasn’t quite. Sometimes, it’s romanticized as it often is in the classics, and others are more brusque with the realism of their portrayal. Luiz e os Louises seem to ride the line between each side of the coin on Life’s a Cigarette. A smoke, after all, only sticks for so long—a fleeting moment of pleasure that corrodes the longer it lasts. To this end, the comparison can be seen as apropos.
Hailing from a small town in Brazil, Luiz Henrique Niehues has been writing music from a sprightly age and has become a folk-rock notable of the South American circuit. Striking serendipity following his travels to New York in hopes of producing his first album, he teamed up with Degraw Sound to craft the atmospheric Life’s a Cigarette. Taking a page from out of Lou Reed’s playbook, Niehues’ greatest strength is in his loose delivery as he waxes poetic throughout the nostalgic tales that he weaves. In regards to production, heightened reverb actually enhances the sound that he is aiming for, producing a wistful Americana vibe redolent of other For Folk’s Sake faves like RiverChild.
Other times, it’s more like Niehues’ intent is to more reflect the many hats that a songwriter like Dylan has taken on in his trade. Verging from psychedelic on ‘Girl’ to the sheer rock vigor of ‘Mary Lou’, there’s a ” jack of all trades, master of none” perception that can’t quite be shaken. To be in Niehues’ position as a burgeoning singer-songwriter just beginning to edge into universal notoriety, however, this multifarious delivery is to be applauded. It’s better to showcase that one can’t be shoved into a singular, definitive box. In a world driven by streams, Niehues has an edge by keeping his hand in multiple cookie jars. In one kept alight by those who still understand the art of giving a singular album an ear on the way through, his journey and his music will be appreciate in tandem.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm