Words by Brian Salvatore

Lucero are one of those bands that you can set your watch to – each release is full of great songs, played expertly, and produced immaculately. The sound that the band has cultivated over the past few years can only be described as ‘American’ – country guitars, soul horns, Replacements energy, E-Street swagger, straight up rock and roll vocals – and here, the band continues to distill that sound, creating a record that is confident and engaging, but a little more laid back than we are used to from Lucero.

What makes a record like this hard to talk about is just how the band makes it all sound easy – all of the hard work that goes into crafting the music is obscured by the gruff vocals and the arrangements that appear simple but are, in fact, meticulously crafted. The band is so fine tuned that everything sounds effortless, and that’s a great thing. But it also means that the record can sound a little homogenous at times.

But there are truly transcendent moments as well: on the opening track “Baby Don’t You Want Me,” about ¾ of the way through the track there pops this incredible Rick Steff piano break that sounds like every boogie woogie song from every old timey saloon got mashed together into a glorious explosion of ivory and steel. The accordion on “They Called Her Killer” gives the track a decidedly Los Lobos vibe, which works perfectly for the band, and elevates the track above many of the others, if only because the accordion helps set it apart. “Young Outlaws” has a powerful riff that the entire band gets in on, and makes the track simultaneously danceable and menacing.

But, as is often the case with Ben Nichols, the lyrics and melody tend to be the stars here. “Me and My Girl in ‘93” has one of the most indelible melodies you’ll hear all year, and since the track closes the record, you’ll be humming it for the rest of the day, whether you want to or not. Lyrically, the record peaks with “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles,” which acts as a tribute to both the city and the late singer/songwriter, but elevates both to mythic status in the process. That isn’t to slag off the rest of the album’s wordplay, but that track might go down as Nichols’s best lyric he’s ever written, and that’s certainly saying something.

‘All A Man Should Do’
ATO Records
© September 18th, 2015



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