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‘Lukas Graham’ review: Soul-pop band’s tuneful debut

Lukas Graham's eponymous debut album is on Warner

Lukas Graham's eponymous debut album is on Warner Bros. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE The “7 Years” singer shows surprising soul.

Don’t be fooled.

Lukas Graham, the Danish singer (and band that also bears his name) behind the yearning ballad “7 Years” is not another supersensitive European singer-songwriter like Passenger or Hozier. He has way more swagger and even a sense of humor.

His debut album “Lukas Graham” (Warner Bros.) includes not only sensitive piano-driven pop, but also a healthy helping of soul.

Though it’s easy to see why Team Graham would want songs thematically similar to his smash “7 Years,” including the “Hard Knock Life”-leaning “Mama Said,” his skill is actually in translating his love of R&B into something poppier, as he does in “Drunk in the Morning” and the sleek soul of “Strip No More,” about a guy who falls in love with a stripper in an innocent way.

But it’s the old-school “Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me” where Graham seems most at ease and most distinctive, as he wraps his voice around a ballad that could have come from Marvin Gaye and puts the Charlie Puth song to shame.

“Lukas Graham” is smartly planned and well-crafted, but its real strength is when Graham lets go and sings from his soulful heart.

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