Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

lucero-texas-and-tennesseeI pretty much divide Lucero into two eras nowadays: the old half and the new half. The old half, back in the That Much Further West/Nobody’s Darlings period, when the band had a more punk-influenced sound with crappier production values and more whiskey-powered sadness, seems to have waned in recent years. It’s given way to the new half, spanning 2009’s 1372 Overton Park until the present, which includes brass instruments and a healthy helping of Memphis blues and soul.

I enjoy both halves of the band’s career, although I prefer the old. On Lucero’s new four-track EP, Texas & Tennessee—to my knowledge, the first EP of their long career—they dip back into the old style a bit on the first two tracks, then give way to the rambling bluesy aesthetic on the last two. All in all, it’s a refreshing mix of their new full-bodied sound with a touch of the old depressing Lucero of yore.

The title track starts things off with an acoustic guitar that could fit it on some of the first Lucero records. Understated brass, a tasteful tambourine, and frontman Ben Nichols’s gravelly vocals round out the track nicely. Possibly the most solid tune on the EP.

My favorite part of “Union Pacific Line” is the beautiful finger-picking lead guitar part, supported by the full-bodied bass underneath. As with the first song, gentle brass swells accent the choruses—this is how I prefer the brass in Lucero’s sound: as supporting characters, accents to provide depth and emotion as Nichols groans on mournfully.

As mentioned, the last half of the EP relies on Lucero’s newer sound, a swinging blues-and-soul influenced aesthetic that seems decidedly, well, happier than the EP’s first two tracks. “Breathless Love” is a triplet-based groove with tinkling piano and more upfront trumpet lines. “Other Side of Lonesome” ends the EP in a ramblin’ Texas sort of way, complete with southern-style guitar riffs and a jolly tambourine-and-bass-drum foundation. These two tracks could have appeared on Lucero’s last full-length, 2012’s Women & Work.

Whichever side of Lucero you prefer, the Texas & Tennessee EP offers a little bit of both. If you like alt-country, southern blues, or soul music, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this latest offering. Texas & Tennessee might not be essential for a skimming of the Lucero catalog, or even a good place to start digging into the band, but it’s definitely a must-have for longtime Lucero fanatics or any fan of alt-country.

~ J.M.

P.S. Does anyone else think it’s weird that Lucero’s sophomore album was called simply Tennessee, and now this EP is called Texas & Tennessee? Maybe it’s suggesting an expansion of the old Lucero, adding a “Texas” style of rambling country to the old Tennessee sound. Or maybe they didn’t think twice about it and just liked the name. Conjecture on my part!