It’s an interesting phenomena when a skilled artist with copious amounts of crossover appeal gains a significant following in one geographical territory whilst remaining relatively unknown in other counties. A prime example of such a phenomenon is Tennessee’s Lucero, an act who have garnered a mighty reputation in the states but are yet to fully break through in our own territories, despite releasing a plethora of highly rated releases within their two decades of activity.
Since their inception in 1998, the group have crested upon the thin, ambiguous line between punk and country, a line they played a major role in unearthing. Despite their tendency to stray into each respective genre at times, often in an intentional and controlled manner, it subtly feels like the act have been fidgeting with each release, attempting to that find that sweet spot where they bridge the gap between the two uniquely characteristic genres, whilst remaining in a position they feel conformable. With their latest record, Among The Ghosts, the group find that coveted sweet spot, bridging the gap through the manners of attitude, aesthetic and maturity.
Aesthetically and at first glance, Among The Ghosts is a alternative country record. However, once you begin to contemplate and revise this record, there’s substantial depth and history. This record is the end result of an act who have emerged from a punk scene, carrying and resonating such sensibilities throughout their career and resulting maturity, yet never abandoning them in the process. Ultimately, such alternative leanings have become a very part of act’s fibre, soaking into their genes and underpinning their content. Whilst such underlining crosscurrents are subtle within this record, their still evident on a fundamental, yet buried level.
Among The Ghosts is a mature, insightful and retrospective offering, one that purposely deserts the bashful nature of their youth in order to capture the southern gothic overtones required in order to tell the tales that Lucero have experienced over the decades. With his established and deeply prolific whiskey and smoke tainted vocals, frontman Ben Nichols reels the stories, tales and domestic troubles he’s faced both as of late and in his lifetime. Reserved, tender yet seemingly urgent in nature, like a confession and tale must be told in order to bring relief, there’s a level of catharsis within this record, a level that becomes immediately evident with the opener and title track. Reeling the struggles of having to leave his family for the road and confessing how such an abandonment takes it’s toll on everyone involved, it feels like such a disclosure brings relief, not only to Nichols but to the listener too. Thorough the hazy and dusk bringing lines we feel and ultimately relate to his pain.
From twilight piano drive of ‘Everything Has Changed’ to the bluesy keys of the love letter that is ‘To My Dearest Wife’, it feels like Lucero have taken time to soak in to the country and blues legacy of their home town, with sonic aesthetics that’s reminiscent of the titanic legends such as Springsteen and Chuck Ragan. Despite this, there’s a colossal amount of crossover appeal present, never going as far to alienate those unfamiliar with the sonic landscapes of country and blues. It’s a record from a group who have settled down with the passage of time but still are haunted by the insecurities and anxieties that time can’t tame, turning to the art of storytelling to cull such hauntings and bring relief. And if anything, it seems to help, as such worries lift from the track and get inhaled from the listener, sharing the weight. In all, Among The Ghosts is a deeply soulful, yet bold record that bridges chasms between genres and one can be appreciated by almost anyone seeking a journey through the dusk of aged contemplation.
Among The Ghosts is released Friday the 3rd of August via Thirty Tigers