Translated from the language of his cultural heritage, Arabic, the name Luay signifies a warrior’s “shield”. Fitting, as Luay’s soulful blend of feel-good guitar, sweet melodies and humble lyrics serve as a mechanism to deflect and protect him from the unavoidable tremors of life, and the more profound experiences of anxiety and depression.

Luay’s Dabasy’s music is the amalgamation of his love of classic blues, pure rock and roll and pop music. All three of these genres have inspired and influenced the London-born Luay tremendously — evident in the bluesy, bittersweet symphonies of his life’s tales. At the centre of Luay’s writing is the vibrant and charismatic heartbeat of his guitar playing. Having thoroughly acquainted himself with the six-stringed instrument for 16 years, Luay recalls that his imagination was immediately captured by a riff on a record by the seminal musician Sting — “I can only describe it as the sweet, secret song of a rare and exotic bird”. This was to be a standout, transformative moment in Luay’s story, opening an avenue to a new dimension of possibility; an odyssey…

All voyages into the unknown, however, are not without an encounter with the dragons of chaos. In 2018 Luay’s mental health was to decline drastically after succumbing to an alluring pitfall of the rock’n’roll lifestyle: the misuse of narcotics. Under the [mis]assumption that drug habituation would alleviate Luay’s burning loneliness, the downward spiral of usage continued perilously, provoking a period of intense psychic distress which culminated in hospitalisation. “I thought these things were helping me, and they were harmless, but I couldn’t see the damage they were doing to me and everyone around me. And then before I knew it, I was lost”. The song “Clean” encapsulates the phenomenal strength and courage Luay was able to summon in order to sever ties to a past with a ferocious grip. Naturally, this could be perceived as the hopelessly dark winter of Luay’s being, but to the contrary, it was in fact during this period of reduced vigour that he laid the tentative foundations for his EP, “Odyssey”. Sketching away, writing from that desolate desert of melancholy emotion, Luay was guided by his innate connection with music to continue to create and write about his experience, instinctively. This was despite Luay’s sense of feeling like a reluctant passenger on a ride called “life”, and not being able to reap the positive emotions of the writing process itself. Nevertheless, he endeavoured, and continued along a path which fatefully led him to the charity, Key Changes, which focuses on recovering artists with mental health conditions. This happening was precisely the star in the deep night sky Luay so needed, and it was at Key Changes where Luay was able to find support, grow as an artist, and of course, record “Odyssey”.

“Odyssey” is the quest of a man who persevered during endlessly difficult moments, in pursuit of something worth having. Luay’s album is laced with lush guitar tones and smooth vocals, and inevitably provide a lyrical map of a despairing boy coming of age and finding his Self. “I know it’s sounds cliché, but I’m better than off than a year ago, and I know myself more”. Honest words from a brave artist.

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