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Subtropical Spin

There's a new piano man in town, and like Billy Joel, New Jersey transplant and Hollywood resident Brendan O'Hara is a hopeful romantic. The singer-songwriter's band, which includes a boy guru who narrates poetically between songs, is called the Humble Ones; their newly released Perceptive Inception, a 20-song disc of lite-rock originals, tackles everything from the standard (falling in love) to the controversial (FCATs).

O'Hara writes all the tunes, sings, plays piano, even raps a bit. Jon Weiner (drums) and Billy B. Bowin (bass) join him on six of the 20 tracks; the rest are solo affairs. Undiluted and unplugged, O'Hara's piano is clean, fluid, and versatile, his singing euphoric and commanding. Given his jazzy touch, Van Morrison comparisons are inevitable, but O'Hara's voice is graver. Pensive, piano-driven gems include the ragtime "Ms. Susie" -- one of many love songs on the disc -- and the early-Joel-sounding "Red, White and Blues," a protest-lament for war dead.

The funky, easygoing "À la Mode" is the album's catchiest tune. Here, O'Hara gets philosophical in a nonsensical sort of way, singing: "Some people say it's about getting your cake and eating it too/I got to say it's paving my own way/It's making my own road/Who likes cake anyway?/Give me that good old apple pie à la mode."

Brendan O'Hara and the Humble Ones play at 9 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at the Luna Star Café, 775 NE 125th St., North Miami. The show is free. Call 305-799-7123.

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