Memphis Americana group Lucero’s ninth studio album Women & Work is a parachute of interwoven themes of working women, work and men who work and love their women.
It’s been a long time since 1998, and with the growing years Lucero’s sound has evolved from their identifying restrained playing to a sonic layering comprised of vibrating guitars, joyous horns and quicktime keys.
Women & Work’s “On My Way Downtown” has lead vocalist Ben Nichols prodding, “come on baby, don’t you wanna go, wanna go? I ain’t looking for forever I’m not asking for your hand, I’m just on my way downtown and I thought I’d take a chance.” Saturated with catchy energetic key arrangements and honky-tonk lyrics, “Women & Work” captures the Deep South’s unabashed will to two-step, drink booze and smash televisions (as Nichols promises) under a canopy of good company.
“It May Be Too Late” tells a story of unrequited love and self-reflection, while “Juniper” holds a mirror to the lonesomeness lust brings. Nichols continually grunts, groans and pleads through his rusty, catch-all vocals, though some tracks fail to resonate. While themes begin to feel overworked during the middle tracks, the piano solo of “Like Lightning” starts off the jam track and then we’re back—full attention and ears are directed to the twangy, good-vibe lyrics “don’t go wasting lightning.”
The six-piece has restrained its punk traditions on this 2012 album, bridging the transition between the shadow of the past and the prospects for the anti-pop future. The contradiction is the very foundation of their Americana roots—a mixture of a retrospective eye and solace of the future rounds out the album with final track “Go Easy.” The hymnal tells us, “we’ll find our way” with backing female vocals and an atmospheric church choir awareness.
Chocked with perspectives, inexpensive times and homegrown storytelling, Women & Work is the perfect album for when you’re on your way to a family reunion and hoping your country family will be appreciative of your taste in music.