At the top of March, we praised Walker Lukens for his willingness to help up-and-comers in need of a keen production ear early on in their career. So you can imagine our excitement when we began to see credits from our August 2021 Artist of the Month BLK ODYSSY pop up in the wild. BLK ODYSSY’s latest collaborator? Austin-via-Minnesota singer-guitarist Lewis “Lew” Apollo.

Sadly, Lew Apollo’s recent alley-oop from boozy live blues-rock performances to BLK ODYSSY’s slick in-studio wheelhouse hasn’t been all that pleasant of a trajectory. It actually coincided with the loss of both his father and a friend to suicide last Fall, an unimaginable trauma that’s become a bittersweet impetus, a tragic catalyst for a creative pivot. In tribute, Lew Apollo’s since dedicated his songwriting to normalizing some of life’s most troubling obstacles – isolation, entrapment, anxiety, temptation, and depression – in hopes of making listeners feel less alone with their own struggles.

As part of that transition, Lew Apollo’s allowed BLK ODYSSY to come on board as producer and co-writer for Lew’s deeply personal debut EP JUNGLE. The machete-sharp cuts on JUNGLE take a leap into rock-R&B concoctions and neo-soul seductions, which remind us that some of the harshest environments can be our immediate internal and external surroundings, not perched at the top of a dense canopy or stalking the bottom of a rainforest floor. And in tandem with Apollo’s passion for providing a sense of belonging to those who may be in crisis, JUNGLE drops in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month on Friday, May 12th. The release show is 8PM that same evening at The Pershing and JUNGLE‘s third single comes out on Friday, but we just gotta give it up to a track that came out in early March. Featuring KUTX favorite Grace Sorensen and unapologetically emotional, “NEED YOUR LOVIN” steers away from the distorted guitar of its Black Angels-esque predecessor “TROUBLE ON MY MIND” for an alluring, atmospheric, and reverb-drenched, harmony-heavy falsetto foray. Bonus points for blunt brevity, unbridled bass riffs, and an effervescent vibraslap at its tail that lends a seals some finality to this near-three-minute masquerade.

BLK ODYSSY: “Hang Low” (KUTX Live)

The name BLK ODYSSY might seem a bit grandiose on first glance, but a quick listen to their recent material justifies the epic magnificence of their sound. While D’Angelo & The Vanguard maintains a naming convention that touts their frontman’s saga, singer Sam Houston has graciously allowed his own name to go by the wayside as the “feature” of BLK ODYSSY and allowed his breathtaking vocals (almost reminiscent of post-Impressions Curtis Mayfield) to mesh effortlessly within a more traditional “band” framework.

Nonetheless, our August 2021 Artist of the Month‘s new record BLK Vintage could definitely make for a good pairing with Black Messiah, offering up a slick mix of modern jazz-psych-soul and seductive funk-R&B. You can catch BLK ODYSSY’s My KUTX session tomorrow night at 6PM and enjoy the grainy visuals of a three-song set below, taped just for KUTX at 512 Studios. The intimate performance (complete with a scarf-wrapped mic stand and plenty of stank face) opens with a previously unheard demo (“Gangster of Love” – that already packs a ton of potential) and KUTX rotation favorite “Funkentology”, but with Texas summer keeping the sun high and the heat in close company, the belle of the ball may just be “Hang Low”.