In experience and attitude, Maxim Ludwig is a man of extremes. He has lived life with violent immoderation, recklessly drunk too much or praised the virtues of his own sobriety, eaten to excess or not at all, slept days away or skipped nights of sleeping, worked obsessively for glory or laid about with unbridled laziness. Out of joy, adventure and abandon, fiercely unafraid of consequences, he is the honest instigator in the tradition of R.P. McMurphy, Serge Gainsbourg and Norman Mailer, a true romantic artist irreverent to all but his craft.
On Ludwig's debut album Libra-Scorpio Cusp, we find our hero at ease by night, brimming with eccentric charisma that's half beatnik, half Rat Pack, showing an uncanny knack for rock and roll with desperate vocals and funky grooves. Through thoughtful arrangements lifted by gritty riffs, expansive keyboards and fearlessly soulful saxophones, Ludwig's first full-length effort stands out as a liberating play. As a songwriter, his lyrics are self-reflective and direct, inspired by the Black Mountain Poets, Henry Miller-esque sexual obsessions, broken promises ("W8 4 U"), creative persistence ("Big White Wall") and some more naughty forms of self-expression ("No One Has to Know"). The melodies are naturally captivating, asking to be sung along to, hair down, ass shaking. On stage, his mad-man performances breed infectious enthusiasm.
As one of Los Angeles' most promising young acts at 19, Ludwig was hyped early by the L.A. Times as "ready to take on" Bob Dylan's legacy and demanding he be signed immediately for superstardom was surely on its way. But he followed bad advice, signing too many contracts because he liked how his name looked in ink and soon wound up packaging deluxe edition CDs and box sets as an assembly line foreman at a downtown factory.
Now Ludwig is recording under his own name exclusively for the first time. In his return, his artistry is resolute and on Libra-Scorpio Cusp chronicles this poetic descent — tracking true disappointment ("All My Nightmares") and the reality of being a college drop out, drained of creative vision before he's barely legal to even buy a beer ("Assembly Line"). Here, we find Ludwig more inspired and motivated than ever, producing his best work with a clearer vision of himself and the world around him.
Most amazingly, Ludwig has managed to hold on to his almost mythological fascination with the rock and roll and stay steadfast in his artistic convictions. Rather than conceit defeat, he understands he's brought any hardship onto himself striving for greatness and living as the last of the playboys. And he wouldn't have it any other way.
Maxim Ludwig's Libra-Scorpio Cusp will be available everywhere June 2 on Hit City U.S.A.